Soul singer and arranger Isaac Hayes, who won Grammy awards and an Oscar for the theme from the 1971 action film “Shaft,” has died, sheriff’s officials in Memphis, Tennessee, reported Sunday.
His family found him unconscious, next to a treadmill that was still running. Medics rushed him to the hospital, but he was pronounced dead just after 2 PM today. He was 65 years old.
Hayes was an incredibly talented singer and songwriter. He had a knack for finding songs with great musical grooves. When he was with Staxx Records early in his career, he co-wrote such R&B classics as “Soul Man”, “When Something is Wrong with My Baby”, “I Thank You” and “Hold On, I’m Coming”. He won an Academy Award and two Grammys in 1972 for his most famous work, “The Theme from Shaft“. His recording career after that was a series of hits and misses that never had the success of the Shaft soundtrack, but he augmented it with some acting roles in a couple blaxploitation movies in the early 70s.
In the 80s, Hayes showed off some pretty solid comedy acting chops with roles in Robin Hood; Men in Tights and I’m Gonna Git You Sucka and even did a couple solid acting jobs in Escape from New York and Johnny Mnemonic. The role for which he’ll be most remembered, though, is as Chef in the South Park television show. He left the show after the creators lampooned the Church of Scientology, of which Hayes was a member. Not long after that he suffered a stroke and did not seem to have recovered well.
Hayes will, I hope, be remembered as a very talented musician who was confident enough to laugh at himself. I wish his family, which was very large, well.
Category: In Memoriam