The world has the Isley Brothers to thank for many things, including the Beatles.
Ernie Isley heard this from a good source — Paul McCartney.
"I weaved through the tables, I got to where he was, I tapped him on his shoulder and he stood up to his full height and he gave me a bear hug that almost cut my air off," Isley said from St. Louis in a phone interview with The Press Wednesday morning.
"He said, 'If not for the Isley Brothers, the Beatles would still be in Liverpool.' Then he went on stage and said that," Isley said of McCartney, who he met at a benefit concert in Upstate New York a few years ago.
Isley then joined McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Jennifer Hudson and Usher on the stage for a star-powered performance of "Twist and Shout," which was a cover single chart hit for the Isley Brothers in 1962 and continues to be a crowd favorite.
"The whole room was on their feet," Isley said.
The Isley Brothers took a seat at the table of American music history when the group formed in 1954. They recorded their first hit song "Shout" 59 years ago. It was released in September 1959 and became a gold single that countless artists have covered, including the Beatles, and found a permanent place in pop culture through films including "Animal House," "Sister Act" and others.
"This is where music is the major from of communication. We can do 'Shout' in China in Tiananmen Square and they would know the song," said Isley, 66. "Fingers crossed to do 'Shout' at the Super Bowl and have people run out there in togas like John Belushi or as nuns like Whoopi Goldberg."
Isley started as a drummer when he was 14 and has since become a songwriter, bassist, guitarist, percussionist and vocalist.
He was a young boy when his older brothers began their journey into the world of music and fame. He was just 11 when he met Jimi Hendrix, who played guitar in the Isley Brothers band for a time.
"He was the only band member that stayed in our home and did not pay for the room he was in, he didn't pay for any of his food, he ate dinner and breakfast over there as a family," Isley said. "He was a gentle spirit. Obviously, a delicate one."
The Isley Brothers have lived and performed through an ever-changing landscape of music. Doo-wop, disco, rhythm and blues, rock and roll. Through it all, the brothers have managed to stay relevant and keep up with the times.
Lead singer Ronald, 77, got his big break when he was only 3 and he won a talent competition. Ronald was one of the founding members and continues to perform with Ernie, who joined his brothers in 1973.
"We’ve been blessed with extensive longevity," Ernie said. "That's unheard of. No one has had that kind of a career longevity, nor have they changed during those years the way that music has changed."
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, the Isley Brothers have an abundance of songs that everyone knows: "It's Your Thing," "That Lady," "Between the Sheets," "Work to Do" and so many more.
Their music has been featured in the works of several other artists, including Ice Cube, Biggie Smalls and Aaliyah.
"I'm glad we're still in the mix by way of sampling," Ernie said. "I'm also glad we can still make a contribution."
All these years later, after numerous hits and playing all over the world in venues like Madison Square Garden, the brothers still love performing and sharing their talent and passion with their fans.
"That never grows old ... It feels like therapy, I can always touch and retouch upon memories, what it was like when the songs were out and what it's like in the present time," Ernie said. "We feel very embraced, and of course we embrace the audience."
The Isley Brothers will be playing their first North Idaho show at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2 at the Coeur d'Alene Casino Resort Hotel. Tickets start at $35 and can be purchased at www.cdacasino.com/event/the-isley-brothers.