Monday, August 11, 2008

Isaac Hayes: A Tribute

17 Seconds is deeply sorry to hear of the death of Isaac Hayes at 65. He was famous as a musician, actor and humanitarian. He laid much of the pioneering groundwork for music, and his influence can be felt on Soul, Funk, Disco, Hip-Hop and House.

Born on August 20, 1942 in Covington, Tennessee, he was raised by his grandparents after the early death of his parents. In the sixties he worked for Stax Records as a as a session player and songwriter. Amongst the songs he wrote included 'Soul Man' and 'Hold On I'm Coming' for Sam and Dave.

In the late 1960s he became a solo artist in his own right, and his second album Hot Buttered Soul is rightly considered a landmark soul album. Maybe it should just be considered a landmark album full stop. It's only four tracks long, and yet over the course of forty five minutes sets the bar for music impossibly high. It contains two covers of well-known songs 'Walk On By' and 'By The Time I Get To Phoenix' transported from three minute pop songs into soul work outs. 'Walk On By' is over nine minutes long; 'By The Time I Get To Phoenix' just under nineteen and starts with a eight minute monologue. Much sampled and lauded, this album is up there with other soul land mark albums; think Stevie Wonder's Music Of My Mind, Talking Book and Innevrvisions and Marvin Gaye's What's Going On and Let's Get It On.

In 1971, Hayes released his best known work, Shaft, the theme music to the Blaxploitation film of the same name. The title track was a US no.1 and a no.4 single in Britain. He won an Oscar for Best Original Song for the "Theme from Shaft," and was he was also nominated for Best Original Dramatic Score for the film's score.

It wasn't all plain sailing; both Stax and Hayes would have financial problems in te mid-seventies, with hayes filing for bankruptacy in 1976. He was a survivor though, and continued to release music, as well as acting in both film and TV. Having appeared as a barman in the film of Shaft, he would appear in The A-Team and Miami Vice, and numerous films including Robin Hood: Men In Tights and Johnny Mnemonic.

In the last decade, he gained a new generation of fans by voicing Chef in the controversail but funny series South Park. Chef's song 'Chocolate Salty Balls (P.S. I Love You') was a no.1 hit in the UK and Ireland. Chef was a love machine par excellence and one of the few level headed people on the show. His surname was McElroy, and according to the Wikipedia entry, his parents live in Edinburgh, Scotland, home of 17 Seconds. However, hayes quit the show, feeling that it had crossed the line from satire into bigotry in an episode entitled Trapped In the Closet which mocked scientology, his adopted religion.

In 2006, he suffered a stroke. Yesterday Police said that he had died at his home in Memphis, Tennessee. Police were called to his home after his wife found him unconscious. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead at 1408 (1908 GMT). He leaves behind a wife and twelve children.

Isaac Hayes -'Theme From Shaft.' mp3

Isaac Hayes -'Soulville.' mp3

Links you may wish to investigate:

Isaac Hayes' official website

Isaac Hayes' entry at the Internet Movie Database

Isaac Hayes on Wikipedia (this has been updated in the last twenty-four hours)

BBC obituary

NME Obituary


Anonymous said...

shame, chef's dead, don't agree with his logic on south park, he happily joined in mocking every other religion, lifstyle and culture but lost his sense of humour when it came to scientology, to me he'll always be chef, with or without that fruity little club

Ed said...

Ah yes...South Park, puerile, casually offensive, but bloody funny all the same...ed