Isaac Hayes would have been 70


Isaac Hayes was one of those behind-the-scenes guys at the Memphis-based Stax Records in the 1960s. He co-wrote songs with David Porter for Sam (Moore) and Dave (Prater), Carla Thomas and others. He was a producer and session musician.

Some of their songs for Sam & Dave (LISTEN!):
You Don’t Know Like I Know
Soul Man
When Something Is Wrong with My Baby
Hold On I’m Comin

Hayes himself became a recording star, with his second album, almost out of commercial necessity. The label was reeling from the death of its big star, Otis Redding, in a plane crash in December 1967. Stax had leased some of its songs to Atlantic Records, for wider distribution, but somehow lost all of its back catalog to Atlantic in early 1968. Some labels might have decided to pick a small number of albums to release and promote; instead, Stax wanted a couple dozen albums, in a throw-them-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks methodology.

From the Wikipedia:
[Hot Buttered Soul] is noted for Hayes’ image (shaved head, gold jewelry, sunglasses, etc.) and his distinct sound (extended orchestral songs relying heavily on organs, horns, and guitars, deep bass vocals, etc.)… Hayes re-interprets Walk On By (listen)… into a twelve-minute exploration. By the Time I Get to Phoenix (listen) starts with an eight-minute long monologue before breaking into song, and the lone original number, the funky Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic (listen) runs nearly ten minutes…

But he was undoubtedly best known for composing and performing music for the soundtrack of the film Shaft. “The title theme (listen), with its wah-wah guitar and multi-layered symphonic arrangement, would become a worldwide hit single, and spent two weeks at number one in the Billboard Hot 100 in November” 1971.

Here’s my Stax post from five years ago.

Unfortunately, the singer “was found unconscious and unresponsive in his home located just east of Memphis on August 10, 2008, ten days before his 66th birthday,” and died of an apparent recurrence of a stroke.

I remember Ike.

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2 thoughts on “Isaac Hayes would have been 70

  1. Good rememberance, roger. I saw him live once, playing basically coctail piano while the stage crew was breaking down opening act Stevie Wonder and setting up the headlining Rolling thunder Revue at a benefit for Rubin Carter. I realized listening to him that I knew next to nothing about the music in his head at that point. As with Hendrix, it is easy to miss his lyricism because he constructed such a total experience.

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