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Ronald Isley (/ˈzl/; born May 21, 1941)[3], also known as Mr. Biggs, is an American recording artist, songwriter, record producer, and occasional actor. Isley is best known as the lead singer and founding member of the family music group the Isley Brothers.

Ronald Isley
Ron Isley.jpg
Isley in 1996
Background information
Also known as
  • Mr. Biggs
Born (1941-05-21) May 21, 1941 (age 78)[1][2]
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
Years active1954–present
Associated acts
WebsiteOfficial Webpage


Early lifeEdit

Born in 1941 to Sallye Bernice (née Bell) and O'Kelly Isley Sr, Isley was the third of six brothers (O'Kelly Isley Jr., Rudolph Isley, Ronald, Vernon Isley, Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley).[4] Ronald, like many of his siblings, began his career in the church. Isley began singing at the age of two, winning a $25 war bond for singing at a spiritual contest at the Union Baptist Church. By the age of seven, Isley was singing on-stage at venues such as the Regal Theater in Chicago, alongside Dinah Washington and a few other notables.


By his early teens, Isley was singing regularly with his brothers in church tours and also first appeared on TV on Ted Mack's Amateur Hour. In 1957, 16-year-old Isley and his two elder brothers O'Kelly and Rudy then 19 and 18 moved to New York to pursue a music career. While in New York, Isley and his brother began recording doo-wop for local labels before landing a major deal with RCA Records in 1959; where the trio wrote and released their anthemic "Shout". By the summer of 1959, the Isley family had moved from Cincinnati to a home in Englewood, New Jersey.[5]

For much of the Isley Brothers' duration, Isley would remain the group's consistent member of the group as well as the lead vocalist for most of the group's tenure with sporadic lead shares with his older brothers. In 1969, Isley reformed T-Neck Records with his brothers in a need to produce themselves without the control of record labels, forming the label shortly after ending a brief tenure with Motown. In 1973, the group's style and sound drastically changed following the release of the 3 + 3 album where brothers Ernie Isley and Marvin Isley and in-law Chris Jasper permanently enter the brothers' lineup, writing the music and lyrics to the group's new sound. The younger brothers had been providing instrumental help for the brothers since the late 1960s. By the mid-1970s, Isley was living in Teaneck, New Jersey.[5]

After Kelly Isley's death in 1986 and Rudy Isley's exit to fulfill a dream of ministry in 1989, Ronald has carried on with the Isley Brothers name either as a solo artist or with accompanying help from the group's younger brothers, much more prominently, Ernie Isley. In 1990, Isley scored a top-ten duet with Rod Stewart with a cover of his brothers' hit "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)", and in 2003 Ronald recorded a solo album, Here I Am: Bacharach Meets Isley, with Burt Bacharach. In addition, Ron Isley became a sought-after hook singer for R&B veteran R. Kelly, and hip-hop acts such as Warren G, 2Pac and UGK. Ronald released his first solo album Mr. I on November 30, 2010. The album includes the first single "No More" It debuted at number 50 on the Billboard 200, selling 22,243 copies. It was his first solo album to crack that chart.

In 2010, Isley received a "Legend Award" at the Soul Train Music Awards. In 2013, Ronald released his second solo album This Song Is For You sign labels eOne. The album includes the first single "Dinner and A Movie". Second single, Premiere Song "My Favorite Thing" wrote, features and produced singer, Kem.[6] Ronald received a nominees Independent R&B/Soul Artist Performance, at the Soul Train Music Awards.[7] In 2014, Ronald made a cameo appearance in the music video for Kendrick Lamar song "i".

Personal lifeEdit

Ronald Isley married Margret Tinsley in 1960 and in 1969 their daughter Tia Isley was born

Isley and Winbush in 1996

In 1993, Isley married singer Angela Winbush in Los Angeles, California.[8] They quietly divorced in early 2002.[9][failed verification] When Winbush received chemotherapy following her ovarian cancer diagnosis, Isley was by her side giving her his support in her recovery.

In 2004, while in London, Isley suffered a mild stroke, which halted an Isley Brothers tour there. In September 2005, he married background singer Kandy Johnson (of the duo JS/Johnson Sisters).[10]Their son, Ronald Isley, Jr. was born in December 2007.[11][12] In 2007, it was reported Isley had kidney problems.[13] Isley still resides in St. Louis.

Tax evasionEdit

In 2006, Isley was convicted of tax evasion charges and sentenced to three years and one month in prison.[14] Isley's sentence was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[15][16] Isley was imprisoned at the Federal Correctional Institution at Terre Haute, Indiana, and was scheduled for release on April 13, 2010. He was moved to a half-way house (Dismas House) in St. Louis, Missouri, following an early departure that October.[17] After his sentence was completed, Isley was released from a federal half-way house on April 13, 2010. Isley is listed as one of California's most delinquent taxpayers, with a $303,411.43 debt from a lien filed on October 22, 2002.[18]


Academic titleEdit


  1. ^ Larkin, Colin (27 May 2011). "The Encyclopedia of Popular Music". Omnibus Press – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Warner, Jay (15 December 2017). "American Singing Groups: A History from 1940s to Today". Hal Leonard Corporation – via Google Books.
  3. ^ "Ronald Isley". IMDb.
  4. ^ Muller, Dr Robert (6 November 2009). "Dr Robert Muller - 1960s Psychedelic Hippie Culture and Music: The Isley Brothers - Success at Its Best".
  5. ^ a b Wilner, Paul. "Isley Brothers: A Family Affair", The New York Times, March 13, 1977. Accessed September 18, 2011. "WHEN Sallye Isley moved her brood of children from Cincinnati to Englewood in the summer of 1959, she was participating in a show-business phenomenon.... While their older brothers toured America, the younger Isley boys enrolled successively in Englewood Junior High and Dwight Morrow High School.... Right now, the brothers reside near enough to each other to keep in close touch. Ronald lives in Teaneck, Kelly Jr. in Alpine, Rudolph in Haworth and Ernie in Englewood."
  6. ^ "Ronald Isley, 'My Favorite Thing': Exclusive Song Premiere". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. July 12, 2013.
  7. ^ "Soul Train Awards Archives".
  8. ^ Company, Johnson Publishing (19 July 1993). "Jet". Johnson Publishing Company – via Google Books.
  9. ^ " - CBSi".
  10. ^ "Jet: Soul legend Ronald Isley weds singer Kandy Johnson". 16 December 2005. Archived from the original on 16 December 2005. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  11. ^ " - CBSi".
  12. ^ "Home -™".™. Archived from the original on 2012-07-10. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  13. ^ "Singer Ronald Isley gets 3 years in prison -". September 12, 2006. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
  14. ^ "Singer Ronald Isley gets 3 years in prison". Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  15. ^ See United States v. Isley, 2008 Tax Notes Today (Tax Analysts) 29-13, No. 06-50509 (9th Cir. 2008).
  16. ^ "Court Upholds Isley's Tax Evasion Sentence", Feb. 12, 2008,, at [1].
  17. ^ See Federal Bureau of Prisons, prisoner number 31215-112, at [2].
  18. ^ "Delinquent Taxpayers". Retrieved 2010-06-22.
  19. ^ The Isley brothers honored at commencement, official site of the Berklee College of Music.

External linksEdit