“It’s Your Thing” Do What You Wanna’ Do! Ronald Isley…Shame On You!

September 4, 2006

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The Isley Brothers

I was preparing to write an article about music in commercials, and the durability of two 40 year old songs, “Shout” and “It’s Your Thing”, both written by the Isley Brothers. I clicked onto an ominous news headline and was saddened to read about the problems the last surviving brother, Ronald Isley is facing. The ailing 65 year old has just been sentenced to three years in Federal prison for income tax evasion!

I took a break…and thought about a simpler time

I met Ronald, Rudolf and O’Kelly Isley at an Alan Freed Rock and Roll show in 1959, when they signed my high school yearbook. The next time I saw them was in London 1964, when we all were staying at the infamous Madison Hotel, right off of Hyde Park.They were in town to do “Ready, Steady, Go”…and I was there as a Songwriter/Publisher, playing my songs to whomever would listen. I would chat with them at the complimentary breakfast, along with other hotel guests at the time, that included Wayne Fontana, the Mindbenders and the Pretty Things.

Peggy, the hotel manager, had a very strict policy. If you didn’t pay the daily rate for your room by 6:00 every night, all of your belongings would be packed up and moved out. Although I was only paying a pound a night [$2.80 US] for a tiny room in the attic…I foolishly showed up late one night after the 6:00 deadline.

I had just spent the afternoon on cloud nine in the studio with my friends, Mickey Most and the Animals, as they put background vocals on “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”. I quickly came down to earth when I saw my luggage and guitar waiting for me in the lobby!
Peggy demanded her pound for the night…plus payment in advance for four more nights! I searched through my pockets, but all I found was a half-crown and a blank personal check, that Peggy wouldn’t accept. My heart sank, as her manservant, who I’ll call “Igor”, started to drag my belongings down the stairs into the street. That’s when Ronald Isley, who I barely knew, came over and handed Peggy a 5 pound note. I stood there with my mouth hanging open, trying to say thank you. As he ran off to meet his limo, he smiled and said, “Don’t worry about it…you can pay me back the next time I see you.”

The next time I saw him was 30 years later, when he came in for dinner at Allan Rinde’s legendary Chinese restaurant in Hollywood, Gengis Cohen (which I named and hosted). As I took him to his table, I reintroduced myself and he laughed as I reminded him what happened all those years ago.

He was surprised, and maybe a little touched, when I sent the waiter over with a belated thank you note, a $20 bill, and a bottle of the best wine in the house!

I thought I saw a tear in his eye…but maybe it was just a little Jeri-Curl juice.

Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne

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2 Responses to ““It’s Your Thing” Do What You Wanna’ Do! Ronald Isley…Shame On You!”


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