The Isley Brothers were originally from Cincinnati, but moved to Englewood when they were still young. When they formed their own record label in 1964, they named it T-Neck, after the town where some of the members of their large family were living. And when they released their single “Testify” (divided into parts 1 and 2 on the two sides of the record), they exposed Jimi Hendrix to a national audience, via vinyl, for the first-time.
Hendrix played guitar for the band in 1963 and 1964, and also lived with them, on and off. He watched the Beatles make their famous “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance in the Isleys’ Englewood living room, in February 1964.
Equal parts gospel, soul and rock, “Testify” is a rave-up about the power of music that’s stunningly intense, at least in the first part (part 2 goes off on a tangent that gets tiresome, with endless shout-outs to other performers such as Ray Charles, Jackie Wilson and Stevie Wonder). It wasn’t a hit, though the Isleys had already had some of those by 1964 (including “Shout!” and “Twist and Shout”), and plenty more were to follow.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday from Sept. 2014 to Sept. 2015. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. The complete list is here.