Friday, 29 April 2011

Isaac Hayes: Soul Man

Isaac Hayes was an American actor and musician known for his contributions to soul and funk music and his personal style. Hayes died in August 2008 of apparent stroke.

Hayes grew up poor in Tennessee; he was raised by his grandparents after the deaths of his parents. As a child Hayes began singing in his community church and taught himself to play the piano, organ, flute and saxophone; later he dropped out of high school to earn money picking cotton.

In the early 1960s Hayes landed a job as a session player for various artists on the Memphis-based Stax Records record label. During this time Stax Records became successful with artists like Otis Redding and Dusty Springfield. Hayes, David Porter and the Stax Records studio band Booker T. & the MGs served as the main production team for many of these artists.

Hayes' early success as a musician is due in large part to his work at Stax Records. Along with songwriting partner David Porter, Hayes wrote the now classic R&B hits "You Don't Know Like I Know," "Soul Man," "When Something is Wrong with My Baby" and "Hold On I'm Comin'" for the R&B duo Sam & Dave. Read more about Hayes' music contributions in music magazines.

In 1968 Hayes released his debut album, which was unsuccessfully commercially. A year later, while Stax Records lost its entire catalog to Atlantic Records, he released "Hot Buttered Soul" on the Stax label, which is now recognized as a milestone in soul music. The album broke out of the traditional album standard of 10 three-minute songs and instead contained four songs clocking in at five to 18 minutes long. The album boosted Hayes to Stax No. 1 artist. Next he released "Black Moses," also a successful album. For more on Hayes' musical accomplishments, read music magazines like Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone and Spin magazine.

In 1971 Hayes composed music for the soundtrack of "Shaft," a blaxploitation film. He also appeared in a cameo role in the film. The movie's theme-song became a worldwide hit single and spent two weeks on the Billboard Magazine Hot 100 charts at No. 1. Hayes won an Academy Award for "Best Original Song," for the theme song. Hayes was the first African-American to win a non-acting Oscar; he also won two Grammy awards. For more on Hayes' film career read African-American magazines like Vibe, Essence and Jet magazine.

After the success Hayes and Stax Records found themselves in deep debt. In 1975 Hayes released "Chocolate Chip," in which he embraced the disco sound and found success with the single "I Can't Turn Around." Hayes garnered praise from critics but his albums sell took a nose dive in the late 1970s and in 1976 he filed for bankruptcy.

In the 1980s and 1990s Hayes appeared in several movies including "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" and television shows like "The A-Team" and "Miami Vice." He kept a low profile until 1995 Hayes launched a comeback with the release of "Branded," that sold modestly and garnered positive reviews. At this time Hayes joined the Scientology religion and Hayes participated in many Scientology events.

In 1997 Hayes garnered new fans and attention by providing the voice for the character "Chef" on the popular yet controversial Comedy Central animated series "South Park." Gained a lot of popularity; left the show when show criticized Scientology. Hayes was inducted into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

In 2006 Hayes confirmed he suffered a stroke; in 2008 Hayes was found unconscious in his home near Memphis and he died at Baptist Memorial Hospital where authorities listed cause of death as a stroke. Hayes left behind 12 children, 14 grandchildren and his fourth wife.

Magazines like People, Essence, Time and Newsweek all profiled Hayes at the time of his death and ran tributes and appreciations.

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