Hopatcong Woman Pens Book About Life as an Isley Brothers Daughter

From "It's Your Thing" to "Between the Sheets," Elizabeth Isley-Barkley describes life in the R&B limelight.

Most people can’t say they grew up in family filled with Grammy winners. And they most certainly can’t remember Jimi Hendrix playing in their basement or meeting Marvin Gaye.

But Hopatcong resident Elizabeth Isley-Barkley, the daughter Rudolph Isley of the Isley Brothers, sure can. And she's written a book about it.

"One Isley Brothers' Daugther" is a 72-page journey into Isley-Barkley's life among stars. And it's not a gossipy, tell-all, she insists.

 “I should have written it earlier but I really wrote it for the fans," Isley-Barkley said. "I can remember in college people would say, 'I wish I could trade places with you.' And growing up surrounded by fame, fans always saw performers through rose-colored glasses. I always saw people with money and the problems that sometimes fans don’t see. The book is a personal journey with what I experienced throughout my life.

“I always had chapters written under my bed, but I was a little afraid of my dad’s reaction. I wrote the book in order to educate other people to see performers for who they really are.”

The book describes some of Barkley’s more exciting moments, such as meeting celebrities and the band members' playing interrupting her homework.

“When I was growing up, I remember Jimi Hendrix playing with my dad and uncles in the basement," Isley-Barkley said. "I remember not being able to do my homework, but it was really exciting.

“I met a lot of people. I remember when my father woke me up to meet Marvin Gaye. When I was younger we would tour a lot. We went to concerts in limousines and at the end of concerts when the group performed  'Shout,' we even went on stage.”

The group attracted all sorts of fans. Some even would come and see Elizabeth’s house.

“My dad used to buy expensive cars, one of them being a Rolls Royce," she said. "I remember people coming just to look at our house and my dad’s cars.”

However, the rush and excitement of attending concerts with her father and his brothers is something Barkley will always remember.

 “I really remember the thrill of the concerts as I describe in the introduction of my book," Isley-Barkley said. "As a fan myself, I would see people jumping up and down for my dad and you would just get caught up in this frenzy and, to be honest, it’s really hard to put into words. But overall, it was a great experience.”

With fame and fortune, Isley-Barkley wanted fans to know that celebrities are people, too.

“Kids are really getting lost in TV, idolizing celebrities and people a little too far," she said. I wanted to show my readers that everyone puts their pants on just like everybody else and in the end celebrities are people too.”

Isley-Barkley said she kept the book to herself for years and didn’t even tell some of the closest members of her family.

“When I first wrote the book, I didn’t tell anyone except for my uncle Ernie, but it was mostly a surprise," Isley-Barkley said. "When my sister found out, she called our brother because she had no idea. However, my book is not a tell-all with personal things to tell or gossip. This is how I was and it’s my point of view.”

But in the end, writing the book has proven to be therapeutic to Isley-Barkley, as she was able to put her own feelings into perspective.

"It was like taking off 10 pounds," she said.

Grammy winners The Isley Brothers were a successful music group of predominately made up of brothers, and one brother in-law. The group started with gospel music and eventually transitioned into other genres, such as doo-wop, funk, soul and R&B.

The group made their first hit “Twist and Shout,” which The Beatles would later cover, in the year 1962. After forming their own label T-Neck Records in the 1964, the group experienced success through hits such as ‘Fight the Power," “For the Love of You," and "Between the Sheets."

In 1969, the group won its first Grammy.  

The Isley Brothers separated when Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, and Chris Jasper parted ways. But the group reformed in the year 1991, this time with Ronald Isley, Ernie Isley and Marvin Isley.

The Isley Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

Like her musically-inclined family members, Isley-Barkley has musical talents of her own.

 “We all sing as we used to put on shows during high school," Isley-Barkley said. "I’m more of the writer of the family as I like to be behind the scenes. I’ve also written musicals and children’s books.”

But Isley-Barkley's favorite song is “Shout.”

"It’s what got my family into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," she sad. "It’s the song you hear at weddings and concerts, and you can’t sit still when you hear that song.”

Read more about Isley-Barkley's book at oneisleybrothersdaughter.com.

Brian April 21, 2011 at 04:34 PM
Congrats to you you Beth. I know you have no idea who this is, but I know who you are. LOL The smallest one on Van Buskirk back in the day. Talk to you soon I hope.
Wendy S. Smith April 28, 2011 at 12:04 AM
Beth and I went to high school together in Demarest, New Jersey. While I was a Senior and Beth was a Freshman, we became very close. We attempted to stay close and she came to one of my cookouts in Jersey, but that was the last time I saw her. I want her to know that I'm very happy for her and very proud of her accomplishments! Congratulations on your new book, and I wish you every success. Take care, hope to see you at some point. Hugs..... Wendy
Barbara Mobley-EL June 01, 2011 at 03:42 PM
Hi Beth, My sister worked with u at a preschool years ago in Jersey, Lenise Mobley. She asked me to look for you on facebook last year, could not find you. She said she saw u on News 12 and asked me to look for you again. Lenise is not on facebook. You may contact her at (973) 856-1454 Congratulations on your book. Barbara Mobley
Barbara carlson June 21, 2011 at 09:54 PM
Hi Beth - It's Babs Walling (Bobbie Carlson) and I have to say this is one book I will go and buy - great topic especially as I have a 15 yr old who is a performing arts major - I loved getting to meet your daughter in my youth group - what a very small world - and I just want to say that you never were anything to me but Beth with the great smile, amazing afro and kind spirit - fun loving always - and your family was always warm and welcoming - just like you. You are one of my cherished memories from high school, would love to reconnect esp. as I am only in Hackettstown - much love Babs (ddcarl@comcast.net)
vanessa bell February 07, 2013 at 12:56 AM
Hi beth we have never met but aunt sis is my mother oldest sister my mom was the baby sister of 4 of the sisters 6 brothers they also had were from cincinnati i met 1 of ur sisters val a while back she visited cincy u wrote about j hendrix i heard those stories as well from granny when they had jus left from cincy my mom is myrtle.. U may have met aunt van before she visit aunt sis the most and then theres aunt clara o can go on and on about my mom siblings their all rip including my mom 2yrs today im jus researching my family tree the isley i met they are much older my oldest bro are their age im inbetween lol if u would plez contact me 513 476 3255


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