[JPL] Isaac Hayes - R.I.P.

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Sun Aug 10 19:12:28 EDT 2008


Isaac Hayes, Memphis soul legend, dead at 65
By Hank Dudding, Bob Mehr

Originally published 03:02 p.m., August 10, 2008
Updated 04:42 p.m., August 10, 2008

Legendary soul music performer Isaac Hayes died this afternoon after he was
found unconscious in his Shelby County home. He was 65.

A family member found the entertainer next to a running treadmill at about 1
p.m. Sunday, said Steve Shular, spokesman for the Shelby County Sheriff's

Hayes, born Aug. 20, 1942, was rushed to Baptist Memorial Hospital, where he
was pronounced dead at 2:10 p.m.

Hayes' wife, their 2-year-old son and another family member had gone to the
grocery store around noon, Shular said. When they returned, they found Hayes

Rescue workers responded to a 911 call, and they performed CPR at Hayes'
home at 9280 Riveredge in the eastern part of Shelby County, near Forest
Hill Irene and Walnut Grove.

The Sheriff's Office is conducting a routine investigation, said Shular, but
³nothing leads us to believe this is foul play.²

Family members told authorities Hayes had been under the care of a physician
for "medical conditions," but no other information was available on what
those conditions were.

A musical prodigy from childhood ­ Hayes began singing in church at age 5,
and by his teen years had mastered several instruments. Hayes hustled on the
local club scene in the early ¹60s, leading a series of combos before
gravitating to the fledgling Stax Records label in South Memphis as a
session player.

There, along with his writing partner David Porter, Hayes would go on to
compose some of the seminal songs in the soul music canon, penning hits for
Carla Thomas (³B-A-B-Y²), Johnnie Taylor (³I Had A Dream²) and most notably,
the duo Sam & Dave (³Soul Man²; ³Hold On I¹m Comin²).

An outsized character even among the colorful crew at Stax, Hayes was noted
for his then novel shaved head and outlandish dress sense, elements that
would become cornerstones of his distinctive persona later on.

As his songwriting and production achievements continued to grow, Hayes made
a rather inauspicious debut as a solo artist for Stax, with 1967¹s
jazz-flavored Presenting Isaac Hayes. But it was his follow-up LP in 1969,
Hot Buttered Soul, that would take him from behind-the-scenes player to
front-and-center star. An adventurous and experimental LP, Hot Buttered Soul
shattered traditional R&B conventions. Comprised of four lengthy songs --
moody, languid and epic reinterpretations of pop hits like ³Walk On By² and
³By The Time I Get To Phoenix² -- the tracks were transformed by Hayes¹
complex arrangements and the sheer power of his rumbling baritone.
Surprisingly, the album became both a critical and commercial success and
catapulted Hayes into a fulltime performing career.

While Hot Buttered Soul would represent his commercial breakthrough -- a
streak he would keep alive with two more chart-topping efforts, 1970¹s ŠTo
Be Continued and The Isaac Hayes Movement -- it was his work on the
soundtrack to Gordon Parks¹ pioneering 1971 ³blaxploitation² film ³Shaft²
that would forever cement Hayes¹ place in history. The film¹s title track ­
an irresistible mingling of wah-wah guitar, orchestral flourishes and Hayes¹
proto-rapping ­ became a pop sensation topping the Billboard charts. The
tune would go on to earn Hayes an Academy Award for ³Best Original Song.²

By the early Œ70s Hayes had become both cottage industry and the lynchpin of
Stax¹s shift toward a kind of new black consciousness. He would continue to
evolve his music with albums like the Grammy-winning ³Black Moses² and
another soundtrack for the film ³Truck Turner² (in which he also starred in
the title role) and was the headliner for the massive 1972 Wattstax concert
in Los Angeles.

Despite his numerous successes, the rapid demise of Stax and personal
management woes forced Hayes to declare bankruptcy in 1976. He would mount a
successful comeback in the late ¹70s with a series of hit songs and albums
for the Polydor label. Although he would continue to write and record
sporadically over the next two decades ­ Hayes took an extended five-year
break from music in the early-¹80s -- his career as an actor blossomed. He
appeared on a number of television shows (³The Rockford Files,² ³Miami
Vice²) and films (³Escape From New York,² ³I¹m Gonna Git You Sucka²) and
became familiar to a whole new generation with his role as Chef in the
popular animated series ³South Park.²

As an artist and stylistic innovator Hayes exerted a major influence
throughout the decades, his work anticipating and contributing heavily to
the evolution of disco, rap, house music and modern R&B. That legacy was
honored when Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

© 2008 Scripps Newspaper Group ‹ Online

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