A Rockapaedia Obituary
Isaac Hayes died aged sixty-five on 10th August 2008 from a stroke. Isaac was found unresponsive in his 7,000 square foot brick home in Cordova, Shelby County, Tennessee, U.S.A . He was buried at Memorial Park Cemetery at 5668, Poplar Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee.
Isaac Hayes was born 20th August nineteen forty-two in a tin shack in Covington, Tipton County, Tennessee, U.S.A.. He was the 2nd child of Eula 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. As the child of a sharecropper family, he grew up working on farms in Shelby County, Tennessee, and in Tipton County. At age five Isaac began singing at his local church and taught himself to play the piano, the Hammond organ, the flute, and the saxophone.
Isaac Hayes dropped out of high school, but his former teachers at Manassas High School in Memphis encouraged him to complete his diploma, which he did at age twenty-one. After graduating, Isaac was offered several music scholarships from colleges and universities. He turned down all of them to provide for his immediate family, working at a meat-packing plant in Memphis by day and playing nightclubs and juke joints several evenings per week. His first professional gigs, in the late nineteen fifties, were as a singer at Curry's Club in North Memphis.
Isaac Hayes fathered twelve children. His first marriage was to Dancy Hayes in nineteen sixty but ended in divorce. His second marriage was to Emily Ruth Watson on November 24th nineteen sixty-five. This marriage also ended in divorce in nineteen seventy-two. Children from this marriage included Vincent Eric Hayes, Melanie Mia Hayes, and Nicole A. Hayes. Isaac later married bank teller Mignon Harley on April 18th, 1973, and then divorced in nineteen eighty-six. They had two children. Isaac Hayes and his wife were eventually forced into bankruptcy, owing over six million dollars.
Isaac's fourth wife, Adjowa, gave birth to a son named Nana Kwadjo on April 10th 2006. He also had one son to whom he gave his name, Isaac Hayes III, known as rap producer Ike Dirty. Isaac's eldest daughter is named Jackie.
Isaac Hayes took his first Scientology course in 1993 and later contributed endorsements for many Scientology books over the following years. In nineteen ninety-six, Isaac Hayes began hosting The Isaac Hayes and Friends Radio Show on WRKS in New York City. Whilst there, Isaac became a customer of a young vegan raw food chef named Elijah Joy and his company Organic Soul.
The Isaac Hayes Foundation was founded in 1999. In February 2006, Isaac Hayes appeared in a Youth for Human Rights International music video called "United"; YHRI being a human rights group founded by the Church of Scientology. He 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.
Isaac 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 nineteen sixty-eight, Isaac Hayes released his debut album, Presenting Isaac Hayes, a jazzy, largely improvised effort that was commercially unsuccessful.
Isaac's 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 twenty-seven new albums to be completed in mid-1969; Hot Buttered Soul, was the most successful of these releases. This album is noted for Isaac Hayes's image of shaved head, gold jewelry, and sunglasses, etc. and his distinct sound of extended orchestral songs relying heavily on organs, horns and guitars, plus deep bass vocals, etc.. Also on the album, Isaac Hayes reinterpreted the song "Walk On By" 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 one original number, the funky "Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic" runs nearly ten minutes, a massive 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 nineteen-seventy, Isaac 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 . The album also featured the instrumental "Ike's Mood," which moved into Isaac's own version of the song "You've Lost That Loving Feeling".
In early nineteen seventy-one, Isaac Hayes composed music for the soundtrack of the successful movie 'Shaft.
The title theme, with its wah-wah guitar and multi-layered symphonic arrangement, would become a world-wide hit single, and spent two weeks at number one in the Billboard Hot Hundred 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 "Soulsville" and the nineteen-minute jam "Do Your Thing," would be edited down to hit singles. Isaac 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, Isaac Hayes released a double album, 'Black Moses', that expanded on his earlier sounds and featured The Jackson 5's song "Never Can Say Goodbye".
In 1972, Isaac Hayes would record the theme tune for the television 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 Isaac Hayes's debut album this year with the new title 'In The Beginning'.
Isaac Hayes was back in nineteen seventy-three with an acclaimed live double album, 'Live at the 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, Isaac 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 of Truck Turner was eventually used by filmmaker Quentin Tarantino in the Kill Bill film series, and has been used for over thirty 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, Isaac Hayes did not sport an Afro; his bald head became one of his defining characteristics.
By 1974, Stax Records was having serious financial problems, stemming from problems with over-extension and limited record sales and distribution. Isaac 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, Isaac Hayes sued Stax for five-point-three million dollars. As Stax was in deep debt and could not pay, the label made an arrangement with Isaac Hayes and Union Planters: Stax released Isaac Hayes from his recording and production contracts, and Union Planters collected all of Isaac Hayes's income and apply it towards his debts. Isaac Hayes formed his own label, Hot Buttered Soul, which released its product through ABC Records.
Isaaac's new album in 1975, Chocolate Chip, saw him 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 Isaac Hayes's last album to chart in the 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 Isaac 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, Isaac Hayes was no longer selling large numbers. He and his wife were forced into bankruptcy in nineteen seventy-six, as they owed over six million dollars. By the end of the bankruptcy proceedings in nineteen seventy-seven, Isaac Hayes had lost his home, much of his personal property, and the rights to the future royalties earned from the music he had written, performed, and produced.
In nineteen seventy-seven, Isaac 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 more energetically 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 Isaac 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 Isaac Hayes's non-album singles and archived recordings as a "new" album, Hotbed, in 1978. In nineteen seventy nine Isaac Hayes returned to the Top 40 with Don't Let Go and its disco-styled title track that became a hit single (U.S.A number 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.
In 1995, Isaac Hayes appeared as a Las Vegas minister impersonating Himself in the comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He 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. Isaac Hayes worked on the theme for the 1996 theatrical release 'Beavis and Butt-Head Do America', producing a piece which was essentially a hybrid of 'The Theme From Shaft' and the theme from the original 'Beavis and Butt-Head' TV show.
In a rather unexpected career move shortly thereafter, Isaac Hayes charged back into the public consciousness as a founding star of Comedy Central's controversial — and wildly successful — animated TV series, South Park. Isaac Hayes provided the voice for the character of "Chef", the amorous elementary-school lunchroom cook, from the show's debut on August 13th, 1997 , through the end of its ninth season in 2006. The role of Chef drew on Isaac 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, Isaac 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 the year 2000, Isaac appeared on 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. In 2002, Isaac Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. After he played a set at the Glastonbury Festival, 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, Isaac 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).
During the late 1990s, Isaac Hayes gained new popularity as the voice of Chef on the Comedy Central animated television series South Park. Chef was a soul-singing cafeteria worker for South Park Elementary. A song from the series performed by Chef, "Chocolate Salty Balls (P.S. I Love You)", received international radio airplay in 1999. It reached number one on the UK singles chart and also on the Irish singles chart. The track also appeared on the album Chef Aid: The South Park Album in 1998.
In the South Park episode "Trapped in the Closet", a satire of Scientology which aired on November 16, 2005, Isaac Hayes did not appear in his role as Chef. While appearing on the Opie and Anthony radio show about a month after the episode aired, Isaac Hayes was asked, "What did you think about when Matt and Trey did that episode on Scientology?", he replied, "One thing about Matt and Trey, they lampoon everybody, and if you take that serious, I'll sell you the Brooklyn Bridge for two dollars. That's what they do."
In an interview for The A.V. Club on January 4, 2006, Isaac Hayes was again asked about the episode. He said that he told the creators, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, "Guys, you have it all wrong. We're not like that. I know that’s your thing, but get your information correct, because somebody might believe that shit, you know?" He then told them to take a couple of Scientology courses to understand what they do. In the interview, Isaac Hayes defended South Park's style of controversial humor, noting that he was not pleased with the show's treatment of Scientology, but conceding that he "understands what Matt and Trey are doing."
On March 13th 2006, a statement was issued in Isaac Hayes's name, indicating that he was asking to be released from his contract with Comedy Central, citing recent episodes which satirized religious beliefs as being intolerant. "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," he was quoted in the press statement. However, the statement did not directly mention Scientology. A response from Matt Stone said that Isaac Hayes' complaints stemmed from the show's criticism of Scientology and that he "has no problem – and he's cashed plenty of checks – with our show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons or Jews." Stone adds, "We never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin." Stone and Parker agreed to release Isaac Hayes from his contract by his request. In 2007, Isaac Hayes said he had quit because "they didn't pay him enough.
The South Park season 10 premiere , aired March 22nd, 2006, featured "The Return of Chef", a thinly veiled telling of the affair from Parker and Stone's point of view. Using sound clips from past episodes, it depicts Chef as having been brainwashed and urges viewers to "remember Chef as the jolly old guy who always broke into song" and not to blame Chef for his defection, but rather, as Kyle states, "be mad at that fruity little club for scrambling his brains." In the episode, the cult that brainwashed Chef is named the "Super Adventure Club" and is depicted as a group of child molesters who travel the world to have sex with prepubescent children from exotic places. In the end, Chef is unable to break free from his brainwashing and dies an extremely gruesome death, falling off a cliff, being mutilated by wild animals and shot several times. At the end of the episode he is shown as being resurrected as a cyborg in the style of the resurrection of Darth Vader at the end of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.
On March 20th 2006, two days before "The Return of Chef" aired, Roger Friedman of Fox News reported having been told that the March 13th statement was made in Isaac Hayes's name, but not by Isaac himself. He wrote: "Isaac Hayes did not quit South Park. My sources say that someone quit it for him. ... Friends in Memphis tell me that Hayes did not issue any statements on his own about South Park. They are mystified." In a 2016 oral history of South Park in The Hollywood Reporter, Isaac Hayes III confirmed that the decision to leave the show was made by Isaac Hayes' entourage, all of whom were ardent Scientologists. The decision was made after Isaac Hayes suffered a stroke leaving him vulnerable to outside influence and unable to make such decisions on his own.
Isaac Hayes' income was sharply reduced as a result of leaving South Park. There followed announcements that he would be touring and performing. A reporter present at a January 2007 show in New York City, who had known Isaac Hayes fairly well, reported that "Isaac was plunked down at a keyboard, where he pretended to front his band. He spoke-sang, and his words were halting. He was not the Isaac Hayes of the past."
In April 2008, while a guest on The Adam Carolla Show, Isaac Hayes stumbled in his responses to questions—possibly as a result of health issues. A caller questioned whether Isaac was under the influence of a substance, and Carolla and co-host Teresa Strasser asked Isaac if he had ever used marijuana. After some confusion on what was being asked, Isaac replied that he had only ever tried it once. During the interview the radio hosts made light of Isaac 's awkward answers, and replayed His comments as sound drops—often simulating conversation with his co-hosts. Isaac Hayes stated during this interview that he was no longer on good terms with Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
During the spring of 2008, Isaac Hayes shot scenes for a comedy about soul musicians inspired by the history of Stax Records entitled Soul Men, in which he appears as himself in a supporting role. His voice can be heard in the film in a voice-over role as Samuel L. Jackson, Bernie Mac (who died the day before Hayes), and Sharon Leal's characters are traveling through Memphis, Tennessee. His first actual appearance in the film is when he is shown in the audience clapping his hands as The Real Deal does a rendition of Isaac Hayes's 1971 hit song "Do Your Thing." His next appearance consists of him entering The Real Deal's dressing room to wish them luck on their performance and shaking hands with Louis Hinds (played by Jackson) and Floyd Henderson (played by Mac). During this scene, Isaac Hayes also helps Hinds reunite with his long-lost daughter Cleo (played by Leal). His final appearance in the film consists of him introducing The Real Deal to the audience. The film was released on November 7th 2008. Two months after his death, the South Park episode "The China Probrem" was dedicated to him.