Isaac Lee Hayes, Jr. (August 20, 1942 – August 10, 2008) was an American songwriter, musician, singer, actor, and voice actor. Hayes was one of the creative influences behind the southern soul music label Stax Records, where he served both as an in-house songwriter and as a record producer, teaming with his partner David Porter during the mid-1960s. Hayes, Porter, Bill Withers, the Sherman Brothers, Steve Cropper, and John Fogerty were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 in recognition of writing scores of notable songs for themselves, the duo Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, and others.
The hit song "Soul Man", written by Hayes and Porter and first performed by Sam & Dave, has been recognized as one of the most influential songs of the past 50 years by the Grammy Hall of Fame. It was also honored by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, by Rolling Stone magazine, and by the RIAA as one of the Songs of the Century.
During the late 1960s, Hayes also began recording music and he had several successful soul albums such as Hot Buttered Soul (1969) and Black Moses (1971). In addition to his work in popular music, he worked as a composer of musical scores for motion pictures.
He is well known for his musical score for the film Shaft (1971). For the "Theme from Shaft", he was awarded the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1972. He became the third African-American, after Sidney Poitier and Hattie McDaniel, to win an Academy Award in any competitive field covered by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He also won two Grammy Awards for that same year. Later, he was given his third Grammy for his music album Black Moses.
In 1992, in recognition of humanitarian work there, he was crowned the honorary king of the Ada, Ghana region. He also acted in motion pictures and television, such as in the movies Truck Turner and I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, and as Gandolf "Gandy" Fitch in the TV series The Rockford Files (1974–1980). From 1997 to 2005, he lent his distinctive, deep voice to the character "Chef" on the animated TV series South Park.
His influences are Percy Mayfield, Big Joe Turner, James Brown, Jerry Butler, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and psychedelic soul groups like The Chambers Brothers and Sly and the Family Stone. Allmusic.com says that Isaac Hayes is responsible for the evolution of disco and rap.
On August 5, 2003, Hayes was honored as a BMI Icon at the 2003 BMI Urban Awards for his enduring influence on generations of music makers. Throughout his songwriting career, Hayes received five BMI R&B Awards, two BMI Pop Awards, two BMI Urban Awards and six Million-Air citations. As of 2008, his songs generated more than 12 million performances.
Isaac Hayes, Jr. was born in Covington, Tennessee, in Tipton County. He was the second child of Eula (née Wade) and Isaac Hayes, Sr.
After his mother died young, and his father abandoned his family, Isaac, Jr., was raised by his maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Willie Wade, Sr. The child of a poor sharecropper family, he grew up working on farms in Shelby County, Tennessee and in Tipton County.
Hayes dropped out of high school, but he was later encouraged by his former high school teachers at Manassas High School in Memphis to complete his high school diploma, which he did at the age of 21. After graduating from high school, Hayes was offered several music scholarships from colleges and universities. Hayes turned down all of them because of his obligations to his immediate family. Hayes next worked at a meat-packing plant in Memphis by day, and he played music at nightclubs and juke joints several evenings a week in Memphis and nearby northern Mississippi.
Hayes began singing at the age of five at his local church, and, soon after, he taught himself to play the piano, the Hammond organ, the flute, and the saxophone. His first professional gigs, in the late 1950s, were as a singer at Curry's Club in North Memphis, backed by Ben Branch's houseband.
Stax Records and Shaft
Hayes began his recording career in the early 1960s, as a session player for various acts of the Memphis-based Stax Records. He later wrote a string of hit songs with songwriting partner David Porter, including "You Don't Know Like I Know", "Soul Man", "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby", and "Hold On I'm Comin" for Sam & Dave. Hayes, Porter and Stax studio band Booker T. & the M.G.'s were also the producers for Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas and other Stax artists during the mid-1960s. Hayes-Porter contributed to the Stax sound made famous during this period, and Sam & Dave credited Hayes for helping develop both their sound and style. In 1968, Hayes released his debut album, Presenting Isaac Hayes, a jazzy, largely improvised effort that was commercially unsuccessful.
His next album was Hot Buttered Soul, which was released in 1969 after Stax had gone through a major upheaval. The label had lost its largest star, Otis Redding, in a plane crash in December 1967. Stax lost all of its back catalog to Atlantic Records in May 1968. As a result, Stax executive vice president Al Bell called for 27 new albums to be completed in mid-1969; Hot Buttered Soul, was the most successful of these releases. This album is noted for Hayes's image (shaved head, gold jewelry, sunglasses, etc.) and his distinct sound (extended orchestral songs relying heavily on organs, horns, and guitars, deep bass vocals, etc.). Also on the album, Hayes re-interprets "Walk On By" (which had been made famous by Dionne Warwick) into a 12-minute exploration. "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" starts with an eight-minute-long monologue before breaking into song, and the lone original number, the funky "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic" runs nearly ten minutes, a significant break from the standard three-minute soul/pop songs.
"Walk On By" would be the first of many times Hayes would take a Burt Bacharach standard, generally made famous as three-minute pop songs by Dionne Warwick or Dusty Springfield, and transform it into a soulful, lengthy and almost gospel number.
In 1970, Hayes released two albums, The Isaac Hayes Movement and To Be Continued. The former stuck to the four-song template of his previous album. Jerry Butler's "I Stand Accused" begins with a trademark spoken word monologue, and Bacharach's "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself" is re-worked. The latter spawned the classic "The Look Of Love", another Bacharach song transformed into an 11-minute epic of lush orchestral rhythm (mid-way it breaks into a rhythm guitar jam for a couple of minutes before suddenly resuming the slow love song). An edited three-minute version was issued as a single. The album also featured the instrumental "Ike's Mood," which segued into his own version of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling". Hayes released a Christmas single, "The Mistletoe and Me" (with "Winter Snow" as a B-side).
In early 1971, Hayes composed music for the soundtrack of the blaxploitation film Shaft. (in the movie, he also appeared in a cameo role as the bartender of No Name Bar). The title theme, with its wah-wah guitar and multi-layered symphonic arrangement, would become a worldwide hit single, and spent two weeks at number one in the Billboard Hot 100 in November. The remainder of the album was mostly instrumentals covering big beat jazz, bluesy funk, and hard Stax-styled soul. The other two vocal songs, the social commentary "Soulville" and the 19-minute jam "Do Your Thing," would be edited down to hit singles. Hayes won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the "Theme from Shaft", and was nominated for Best Original Dramatic Score for the film's score.
Later in the year, Hayes released a double album, Black Moses, that expanded on his earlier sounds and featured The Jackson 5's song "Never Can Say Goodbye". Another single, "I Can't Help It", was not featured on the album.
In 1972, Hayes would record the theme tune for the TV series The Men and enjoy a hit single (with "Type Thang" as a B-side). He released several other non-album singles during the year, such as "Feel Like Making Love", "If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don't Want To Be Right)", and "Rolling Down a Mountainside". Atlantic would re-release Hayes's debut album this year with the new title In The Beginning.
Hayes was back in 1973 with an acclaimed live double album, Live At Sahara Tahoe, and followed it up with the album Joy, with the eerie beat of the 15-minute title track. He moved away from cover songs with this album. An edited "Joy" would be a hit single.
In 1974, Hayes was featured in the blaxploitation films Three Tough Guys and Truck Turner, and he recorded soundtracks for both. Tough Guys was almost devoid of vocals and Truck Turner yielded a single with the title theme. The soundtrack score was eventually used by filmmaker Quentin Tarantino in the Kill Bill film series and has been used for over 30 years as the opening score of Brazilian radio show Jornal de Esportes on the Jovem Pan station.
Unlike most African-American musicians of the period, Hayes did not sport an Afro and instead chose to shave his head bald.
HBS (Hot Buttered Soul Records) and bankruptcy
By 1974, Stax Records was having serious financial problems, stemming from problems with overextension and limited record sales and distribution. Hayes himself was deep in debt to Union Planters Bank, which administered loans for the Stax label and many of its other key employees. In September of that year, Hayes sued Stax for $5.3 million. As Stax was in deep debt and could not pay, the label made an arrangement with Hayes and Union Planters: Stax released Hayes from his recording and production contracts, and Union Planters would collect all of Hayes's income and apply it towards his debts. Hayes formed his own label, Hot Buttered Soul, which released its product through ABC Records.
His new album, 1975's Chocolate Chip saw Hayes embrace the disco sound with the title track and lead single. "I Can't Turn Around" would prove a popular song as time went on. This would be Hayes's last album to chart top 40 for many years. Later in the year, the all instrumental Disco Connection album fully embraced disco.
In 1976, the album cover of Juicy Fruit featured Hayes in a pool with naked women, and spawned the title track single and the classic "Storm Is Over". Later the same year the Groove-A-Thon album featured the singles "Rock Me Easy Baby" and the title track. However, while all these albums were regarded as solid efforts, Hayes was no longer selling large numbers. He and his wife were forced into bankruptcy in 1976, as they owed over $6 million. By the end of the bankruptcy proceedings in 1977, Hayes had lost his home, much of his personal property, and the rights to all future royalties earned from the music he'd written, performed, and produced
Basketball team ownership
On July 17, 1974, Hayes, along with Mike Storen, Avron Fogelman and Kemmons Wilson took over ownership of the American Basketball Association team the Memphis Tams. The prior owner was Charles O. Finley, the owner of the Oakland A's baseball team. Hayes's group renamed the team the Memphis Sounds. Despite a 66% increase in home attendance, hiring well regarded coach Joe Mullaney and, unlike in the prior three seasons, making the 1975 ABA Playoffs (losing to the eventual champion Kentucky Colonels in the Eastern Division semifinals), the team's financial problems continued. The group was given a deadline of June 1, 1975, to sell 4,000 season tickets, obtain new investors and arrange a more favorable lease for the team at the Mid-South Coliseum. The group did not come through and the ABA took over the team, selling it to a group in Maryland that renamed the team the Baltimore Hustlers and then the Baltimore Claws before the club finally folded during preseason play for the 1975-1976 season.
Polydor and hiatus, film work, and the Duke of New York
n 1977, Hayes was back with a new deal with Polydor Records, a live album of duets with Dionne Warwick did moderately well, and his comeback studio album New Horizon sold better and enjoyed a hit single "Out The Ghetto", and also featured the popular "It's Heaven To Me".
1978's For The Sake Of Love saw Hayes record a sequel to "Theme from Shaft" ("Shaft II"), but was most famous for the single "Zeke The Freak", a song that would have a shelf life of decades and be a major part of the House movement in the UK. The same year, Fantasy Records, which had bought out Stax Records, released an album of Hayes's non-album singles and archived recordings as a "new" album, Hotbed, in 1978.
In 1979, Hayes returned to the Top 40 with Don't Let Go and its disco-styled title track that became a hit single (U.S. #18), and also featured the classic "A Few More Kisses To Go". Later in the year he added vocals and worked on Millie Jackson's album Royal Rappin's, and a song he co-wrote, "Deja Vu", became a hit for Dionne Warwick and won her a Grammy for best female R&B vocal.
Neither 1980s And Once Again or 1981's Lifetime Thing produced notable songs or big sales, and Hayes chose to take a break from music to pursue acting.
In the 1970s, Hayes was featured in the films Shaft (1971) and Truck Turner (1974); he also had a recurring role in the TV series The Rockford Files as an old cellmate of Rockford's, Gandolph Fitch (who always referred to Rockford as "Rockfish" much to his annoyance), including one episode alongside duet-partner Dionne Warwick. In the 1980s and 90s, he appeared in numerous films, notably Escape from New York (1981), I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988), Prime Target (1991), and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), as well as in episodes of The A-Team and Miami Vice. He also attempted a musical comeback, embracing the style of drum machines and synth for 1986s U-Turn and 1988s Love Attack, though neither proved successful. In 1991 he was featured in a duet with fellow soul singer Barry White on White's ballad "Dark and Lovely (You Over There)".
Return to fame and stardom
In 1995, Hayes appeared as a Las Vegas minister impersonating Isaac Hayes in the comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Hayes launched a comeback on the Virgin label in May 1995 with Branded, an album of new material that earned impressive sales figures as well as positive reviews from critics who proclaimed it a return to form. A companion album released around the same time, Raw and Refined, featured a collection of previously unreleased instrumentals, both old and new.
In a rather unexpected career move shortly thereafter, Hayes charged back into the public consciousness as a founding star of Comedy Central's controversial — and wildly successful — animated TV series, South Park. Hayes provided the voice for the character of "Chef", the amorous elementary-school lunchroom cook, from the show's debut on August 13, 1997 (one week shy of his 55th birthday), through the end of its ninth season in 2006. The role of Chef drew on Hayes's talents both as an actor and as a singer, thanks to the character's penchant for making conversational points in the form of crudely suggestive soul songs. An album of songs from the series appeared in 1998 with the title Chef Aid: The South Park Album reflecting Chef's popularity with the show's fans, and the Chef song "Chocolate Salty Balls" became a number-one U.K. hit. However, when South Park leaped to the big screen the following year with the smash animated musical South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Hayes/Chef was the only major character who did not perform a showcase song in the film; his lone musical contribution was "Good Love," a track on the soundtrack album which originally appeared on Black Moses in 1971 and is not heard in the movie.
In 2000, he came out in the soundtrack of the French movie The Magnet on the song "Is It Really Home" written and composed by rapper Akhenaton (IAM) and composer Bruno Coulais.
Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. The same year, a documentary highlighting Isaac's career and his impact on many of the Memphis artists in the 1960s onwards was produced, "Only The Strong Survive".
In 2004, Hayes appeared in a recurring minor role as the Jaffa Tolok on the television series Stargate SG-1. The following year, he appeared in the critically acclaimed independent film Hustle & Flow. He also had a brief recurring role in UPN's Girlfriends as Eugene Childs (father of Toni).
Hayes took his first Scientology course in 1993, later contributing endorsement blurbs for many Scientology books over the ensuing years. The frontispiece page for Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought (1997 paperback edition) quotes Hayes as saying "If you really want to know about the mind, the spirit and life itself, read Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought. It will put you on the right path!" In 1996, Hayes began hosting The Isaac Hayes and Friends Radio Show on WRKS in New York City. While there Hayes became a client of young vegan raw food chef, Elijah Joy and his company Organic Soul, Inc. Hayes also appears in the Scientology film Orientation.
In 1998, Hayes and fellow Scientologist entertainers Anne Archer, Chick Corea and Haywood Nelson attended the 30th anniversary of Freedom Magazine, the Church of Scientology's investigative news journal, at the National Press Club in Washington DC, to honor 11 human rights activists.
In 2001, Hayes and Doug E. Fresh, another Scientologist musician, recorded a Scientology-inspired album called The Joy Of Creating – The Golden Era Musicians And Friends Play L. Ron Hubbard
The Isaac Hayes Foundation was founded in 1999 by Hayes.
In February 2006, Hayes appeared in a Youth for Human Rights International music video called "United". YHRI is a human rights group founded by the Church of Scientology.
Hayes was also involved in other human rights related groups such as the One Campaign. Isaac Hayes was crowned a chief in Ghana for his humanitarian work and economic efforts on the country’s behalf.
Hayes has 11 children, and has 14 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. His fourth wife, Adjowa, gave birth to a son named Nana Kwadjo Hayes on April 10, 2006. He also had one son and is his namesake, Isaac Hayes III, known as rap producer Ike Dirty. Hayes's eldest daughter is named Jackie also named co-executor of his estate and other children to follow Veronica, Felicia, Melanie, Nikki, Lili, Darius and Vincent and he also had a daughter named Heather Hayes.
Hayes's first marriage, in 1960, ended in divorce.
Hayes's second marriage was to Emily Ruth Watson on November 24th, 1965. This marriage ended in divorce in 1972. Children from this marriage included Vincent Eric Hayes, Melanie Mia Hayes and Nicole A. Hayes (McGee).
He married bank teller Mignon Harley on April 18, 1973, and they divorced in 1986; they had two children. For her wedding gift, Hayes gave her a matching convertible Jaguar. The couple resided in a mansion with maid service. Hayes and his wife were forced into bankruptcy, owing over $6 million. Over the years, Isaac Hayes was able to recover financially.
Stroke and Death
On March 20, 2006, Roger Friedman of Fox News reported that Hayes had suffered a minor stroke in January. Hayes's spokeswoman, Amy Harnell, denied this, but on October 26, 2006, Hayes himself confirmed that he had suffered a stroke.
Hayes was found unresponsive in his home located just east of Memphis on August 10, 2008, ten days before his 66th birthday, as reported by the Shelby County, Tennessee Sheriff's Department. A Shelby County Sheriff's deputy and an ambulance from Rural Metro responded to his home after three family members found him unresponsive on the floor next to a still-operating treadmill. Hayes was taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, where he was pronounced dead at 2:08 p.m. The cause of death was not immediately clear, though the area medical examiners later listed a devastating recurrence of stroke as the cause of death.
The Tennessee General Assembly enacted legislation in 2010 to honor Hayes by naming a section of Interstate 40 the "Isaac Hayes Memorial Highway". The name was applied to the stretch of highway in Shelby County from Sam Cooper Boulevard in Memphis east to the Fayette County line. The naming was made official at a ceremony held on Hayes's birth anniversary in August 2010.
|Isaac Hayes Jr.|
Isaac Hayes performs at the International Amphitheater in Chicago as part of the annual PUSHBlack Expo, October 1973
|Birth name||Isaac Lee Hayes, Jr.|
|Born||August 20, 1942|
|Origin||Shelby County, Tennessee, U.S.|
|Genres||Blues, funk, jazz-funk, soul, disco|
|Occupations||Singer-songwriter, arranger, record producer, actor|
|Instruments||piano, keyboard instruments, vocals,trombone, saxophone|
|Labels||Enterprise/Stax, ABC, Columbia Records, Point Blank|
|Associated acts||David Porter, Booker T. & the M.G.'s,The Bar-Kays, Dionne Warwick|