[JPL] Isaac Hayes' History With Scientology

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Mon Aug 11 22:33:40 EDT 2008

  Isaac Hayes' History With Scientology

*Monday , August 11, 2008*
By Roger Friedman

My friend, *Isaac Hayes*, died on Sunday, and his passing leaves many 
unanswered questions.

The great R&B star, actor, DJ, performer and family man, the composer of 
"Soul Man," "Hold On I'm Coming" and other hits by *Sam Moore* and *Dave 
Prater* like "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby," also was a member 
of the Church of Scientology.

Isaac was found dead by his treadmill, but conveniently missing from the 
wire stories was a significant fact: in January 2006, Isaac had a 
significant stroke. At the time, the word went out only that he had been 
hospitalized for exhaustion.

But the truth was, Isaac, whom I'd seen just a couple of months earlier 
when he headlined the Blues Ball in Memphis, was in trouble. Having lost 
the rights to his songs two decades earlier, he was finally making some 
money voicing the character of Chef on "South Park." But "South Park" 
lampooned Scientology, so the leaders wanted Isaac out.

Push came to shove on Nov. 16, 2005, when "South Park" aired its 
hilarious "Trapped in the Closet" episode spoofing *Tom Cruise* and 
*John* *Travolta*. "South Park" creator *Matt Stone* told me later that 
Isaac had come to him in tears.

"He said he was under great pressure from Scientology, and if we didn't 
stop poking at them, he'd have to leave," Stone said.

The conversation ended there. Isaac performed Chef's signature song at 
the Blues Ball a week later with great delight. Although he was devoted 
to Scientology, he also loved being part of "South Park." He was proud 
of it. And, importantly, it gave him income he badly needed.

But then came the stroke, which was severe. His staff --- consisting of 
Scientology monitors who rarely left him alone --- tried to portray it 
as a minor health issue. It wasn't. Sources in Memphis told me at the 
time that Isaac had significant motor control and speech issues. His 
talking was impaired.

In March 2006, news came that Hayes was resigning from "South Park." On 
March 20, 2006, I wrote a column called "Chef's Quitting Controversy," 
explaining that Hayes was in no position to have quit anything due to 
his stroke. But Scientology issued the statement to the press saying 
Hayes had resigned, and the press just ate it up. No one spoke to Isaac 
directly, because he couldn't literally speak. "Chef" was written out of 
the show.

*Click here to read the March 20, 2006 FOX411* 

Isaac's income stream was severely impaired as a result. Suddenly there 
were announcements of his touring, and performing. It didn't seem 
possible, but word went out that he'd be at BB King's in New York in 
January 2007. I went to see him and reported on it here.

The show was an abomination. Isaac was plunked down at a keyboard, where 
he pretended to front his band. He spoke-sang, and his words were 
halting. He was not the Isaac Hayes of the past.

What was worse was that he barely knew me. He had appeared in my 
documentary, "Only the Strong Survive," released in 2003. We knew each 
other very well. I was actually surprised that his Scientology minder, 
*Christina Kumi Kimball*, with whom I had difficult encounters in the 
past, let me see him backstage at BB King's. Our meeting was brief, and 
Isaac said quietly that he did know me. But the light was out in his 
eyes, and the situation was worrisome.

But the general consensus was that he needed the money. Without "Chef," 
Isaac's finances were severely curtailed. He had mouths to feed to home. 
Plus, Scientology requires huge amounts of money, as former member, 
actor *Jason Beghe*, has explained in this space. For Isaac to continue 
in the sect, he had to come up with funds. Performing was the only way.

In recent months, I've had conflicting reports. One mutual friend says 
that Isaac had looked and sounded much better lately at business 
meetings. But actor *Samuel L. Jackson*, who recently filmed scenes with 
Isaac and the late *Bernie Mac* for a new movie called "Soul Men," told 
me on Saturday that Isaac really wasn't up to the physical demands of 
shooting the movie. (Neither, it seems, was Bernie Mac.)

Sam Moore, who recorded those Isaac Hayes songs in the '60s and loved 
the writer-performer like a brother, told me Sunday when he heard about 
the death: "I'm happy." Happy, I asked? "Yes, happy he's out of pain." 
It was one of the most beautiful ideas I'd ever heard expressed on the 
subject of death.

But there are a lot of questions still to be raised about Isaac Hayes' 
death. Why, for example, was a stroke survivor on a treadmill by 
himself? What was his condition? What kind of treatment had he had since 
the stroke? Members of Scientology are required to sign a form promising 
they will never seek psychiatric or mental assistance. But stroke 
rehabilitation involves the help of neurologists and often 
psychiatrists, not to mention psychotropic drugs --- exactly the kind 
Scientology proselytizes against.

What will come next, I'm afraid, is a wild dogfight among family members 
for Isaac's estate. His song catalog (with *David Porter*) is one of the 
greatest in music history. Isaac lost the rights to his big hit songs in 
1977. But thanks to something called the Songwriters Act, his heirs --- 
whoever they are determined to be --- automatically get the rights back 
as the songs come up for copyright renewal. I guarantee this will not be 
pretty. Isaac Lee Hayes has over 300 original compositions listed with 
BMI, from the Sam & Dave songbook to *Carla Thomas*' "BABY (Baby)" to 
his monumental instrumental "Theme from SHAFT."

None of this should ever take away from who Isaac Hayes really was: a 
great friend, a warm congenial man with a big heart and a big laugh. He 
had married again right before his stroke, and was very happy. If he 
hadn't had the stroke, I am certain he would have recorded a new album. 
There was talk of it after the stroke, but nothing materialized. When we 
made and promoted "Only the Strong Survive," he was a masterful musician 
with a great mind and a wicked sense of humor. His loss at 65 is simply 
way too early and very tragic.

Dr. Jazz
Dr. Jazz Operations
24270 Eastwood
Oak Park, MI  48237
(248) 542-7888
SKYPE:  drjazz99

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