Isaac HayesActor / Singer
Born: 20 August 1942
Died: 10 August 2008 (stroke)
Birthplace: Covington, Tennessee
Best known as: The singer of "Theme from Shaft"
The "Black Moses" of American R&B music, Isaac Hayes was known best for his Oscar-winning 1971 hit, "Theme from Shaft." As a session musician, arranger and producer for Stax Records in the 1960s, Hayes helped shape the "Memphis Sound" of rhythm and blues with artists like Otis Redding and Sam & Dave. Then he broke through as a solo act with the album Hot Buttered Soul (1969). A collection of long songs with lush arrangements and pillow-talk, the album is now considered a key forerunner to rap. Hayes became a bigger star with his soundtrack to the 1971 black action film Shaft. "Theme from Shaft" won a Grammy, and Hayes performed the tune draped in gold chains at the 1972 Oscar ceremony, where he won the Academy Award for best song. Hayes released the albums Black Moses (1971) and Joy (1973) and began a long career as a sometime actor and walk-on star in movies and on TV. His films include Escape From New York (1981, starring Kurt Russell), Reindeer Games (2000, starring Ben Affleck) and Hustle & Flow (2005, starring Terrence Howard). Hayes's career took a completely different turn in 1997 when he joined the cast of the animated series South Park as the straight-talking, lady-loving Chef. He quit the role after the show made fun of Scientology, his religion, in 2006. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
On the day of his death, Hayes was found unconscious by his family near a running treadmill, apparently after a workout. His doctor listed “stroke” as the cause of death on his death certificate. Hayes had suffered a previous stroke in 2006 and was being treated for high blood pressure.
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