Isaac Hayes Biography

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20 August 1942, Covington, Tennessee, USA d. 10 August 2008, Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Hayes’ formative years were spent playing piano and organ in various Memphis clubs. He fronted several groups, including Sir Isaac And The Doo-dads, the Teen Tones and Sir Calvin And His Swinging Cats, and recorded a handful of rudimentary singles. However, it was not until 1964 that he was able to attract the attention of the city’s premier soul outlet, Stax Records. Having completed a session with Mar-Keys saxophonist Floyd Newman, Hayes was invited to remain as a stand-in for Booker T. Jones. He then established a songwriting partnership with David Porter and enjoyed success with Sam And Dave’s ‘Hold On I’m Comin’’, ‘Soul Man’ and ‘When Something Is Wrong With My Baby’. The team also wrote for Carla Thomas (‘B-A-B-Y’) and Johnnie Taylor (‘I Had A Dream’, ‘I Got To Love Somebody’s Baby’). They were responsible for the formation of the Soul Children as a vehicle for their songwriting.

Hayes, nonetheless, remained a frustrated performer, and an after-hours, jazz-based spree resulted in his debut, Presenting Isaac Hayes, in 1967. Hot Buttered Soul, released in 1969, established the artist’s reputation - its sensual soliloquies and shimmering orchestration combined in a remarkable, sophisticated statement. The artist also attained notoriety for his striking physical appearance - his shaven head and gold medallions enhanced a carefully cultivated mystique. However, The Isaac Hayes Movement, To Be Continued (both 1970) and Black Moses (1971) were less satisfying artistically as the style gradually degenerated into self-parody. Shaft was a highly successful movie soundtrack released in 1971, and is considered by many to be Hayes’ best work. Its theme also became an international hit single (US number 1/UK number 4) and its enduring qualities were emphasized when the song was covered by Eddy And The Soul Band in 1985, and reached number 13 in the UK charts. However, subsequent movie scores, Tough Guys and Truck Turner (both 1974), were less interesting. Hayes left Stax in 1975 following a much publicized row over royalties, and set up his own Hot Buttered Soul label. Declared bankrupt the following year, he moved to Polydor Records and then Spring, where his prolific output continued.

In 1981, however, he retired for five years before re-emerging with ‘Ike’s Rap’, a Top 10 US R&B single that partially revitalized his reputation. Many of Hayes’ original Enterprise albums have been reissued in CD format by the UK’s Ace Records under their reactivated Stax logo. Although trumpeted as a return to form, Hayes’ mid-90s albums for PointBlank indicated little progress. Hayes achieved cult status in the late 90s by playing Chef in the American cartoon series South Park. A caricature of his own loverman style, the character even returned Hayes to the top of the British charts when the ribald novelty item ‘Chocolate Salty Balls’ reached UK number 1 in December 1998. A Scientologist, Hayes generally tolerated the show's jabs at his religion, until he deemed a 2006 episode satirizing Scientology as having gone too far. Saying "There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends, and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins," Hayes announced he was quitting the long-running and controversial show. In August of 2008, the consummate soul man was found dead at 65 of what would later be determined to be a stroke.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.