Soul King Isaac Hayes Dead at 65

Posted in News on August 11, 2008

Venerable soul king Isaac Hayes died Sunday, August 10 in his Memphis, Tennessee home. He was 65 years old.

In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Hayes’s inimitable baritone, honey-buttered delivery and recital segues helped define deep soul and laid the foundation for multiple styles, including disco and rap.

In 1964, the Stax record label hired the young Isaac Hayes as a backing musician for legends including Otis Redding. Hayes soon paired with songwriter David Porter, and together they penned more than 200 songs, including hits for duo Sam and Dave, including “Hold On! I’m Comin’” and “Soul Man.” Hayes and Porter’s dynamic creative partnership developed into lifelong friendship.

His early successes as a songwriter convinced the Stax label to sign Hayes to a record deal, and the subsequently released landmark album Hot Buttered Soul catapulted the young singer to stardom in 1969. He helped to establish the now-legendary Stax Records, and at the time of his death was preparing work for a new project to be released by the label.

In 1971, his “Theme from Shaft” from the film Shaft became a no. 1 single and garnered Hayes an Oscar and two Grammys. In an interview with the Associated Press in 1999, Hayes said the career-changing song was “like the shot heard round the world.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame welcomed Hayes in 2002, and in 2005, he and David Porter joined the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

A longtime BMI songwriter, Hayes received five BMI R&B Awards, two BMI Pop Awards, two BMI Urban Awards and six Million-Air citations. His songs generated more than 12 million performances throughout his life. A seminal American artist and cultural catalyst, Isaac Hayes was honored as a BMI Icon in 2003.

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen will be issuing a Proclamation August 18, honoring Isaac Hayes and his contribution to the state of Tennessee and the entire nation.