The Quest For Autographed Vinyl ~THE ISLEY BROTHERS~

Hiroaki Gobe

My name is Gobe. I am a fan of records and the Japanese wrestling classics. I introduce special artists through my personal stories and the autographed records I have collected over years of going to live shows in Japan.

The next artist is a group of brothers that has been at the forefront of their career since the ‘50s.


The Isley Brothers are well known amongst rock fans for singing Twist and Shout before The Beatles, and having young Jimi Hendrix as part of their band. They are a household name for American black music fans who experienced the ‘70s and the ‘80s first hand. I, on the other hand, came across The Isley Brothers through hip hop in the ‘90s, when their songs were frequently used as source for sampling. Starting with Aaliyah’s (At Your Best) You Are Love, and other hit songs by Ice Cube and Common Sense, I bought every record that had the original song on it.

Eventually, just listening to the records could no longer satiate me—I hungered for information—so I bought the special issue of Record Collectors that featured The Isley Brothers. The magazine felt too fanatic for a young man in his 20s, so I had a hard time taking it up to the counter—we didn’t have the convenience of the internet back then.

I racked up a complete collection of their albums, and become a bigger fan of The Isley Brothers than the hip hop artists that helped introduce them to me. A few years later, their return to Japan was announced! 

The concert on April 19th, 1998 at 6pm at the Akasaka Blitz sold out in an instant. I was totally bummed for missing the chance to get a ticket, but they announced an additional show on the same day for 9:30pm, and I jumped on that opportunity. (Supposedly, they hadn’t planned to add a show in the beginning.)

I rarely stalk artists anymore, with exceptions of venues that allow me to drink at the bar and wait for the artists to come out from the back, but when I was a hip hop and R&B fanatic in my twenties, I would wait around for a chance to see artists when they were arriving or exiting the venue. I must have had a lot of spare time.

On the day of the concert, I pulled an ‘arrival ambush.’ When I got to the Blitz way before the start time of the first show at 6pm, there was already a couple waiting there. Who else would be loitering around here at this time? They must have the same motives. There was nothing to do, so I thought about talking to them, but I was hesitant because they had each other to kill time with. They were the first ones to break the ice. The man was an avid soul and funk concert goer for years that collected autographs, and the woman with him was his wife. While he was sharing his tales of celebrity encounters with me, a van pulled up to the back entrance of the Blitz. Ernie Isley, the guitar player, emerged.

Harvest For The World by The Isley Brothers
(LP autographed by Ernie Isley @ Akasaka Blitz on April 19, 1998)

After that, I saw The Isley Brothers three more times.

February 10, 1999 @ Akasaka Blitz
December 9, 2001 @ Shinjuku Liquidroom
March 2, 2004 @ Blue Note Tokyo

The most memorable moment from those shows was during The Isley Brothers’ 1999 visit.

My friend and I had gotten tickets and were looking forward to the upcoming concert of The Isley Brothers when Mutsumi Fukuhara, the singer of the band Super Junky Monkey, passed away. She was one of the biggest influences of mine, and her wake was held the day before the big show. My friend empathetically suggested that we don’t go to the concert, but I decided to go anyway—being at home alone would have been unbearable. I was trying to hold my composure around my friend, but I’m not sure if I pulled it off at the end. I don’t remember any songs from that concert. The only thing I remember, however, is Ernie Isley going crazy during his solos: playing the guitar with his teeth and behind his head—like Jimi Hendrix—and he made me laugh from the depth of my belly. It made me feel a little better, and from that day on, Ernie has been my hero.

The Heat Is On by The Isley Brothers

(LP autographed by Ernie Isley @ Akasaka Blitz on April 19, 1998)

Stay tuned for more autographed records, adventures, and artist stories.

Hiroaki Gobe

Hiroaki Gobe
Gobe is a lover of vinyl and Japanese wrestling classics, and is a being that finds joy in going to concerts and clubs and collecting autographs on records. His very first autograph was from the famed Japanese wrestler Giant Baba. (His favorite wrestlers are: Brody, Fujinami, etc.)

Translation by Mika Anami

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