Isaac Hayes was an African-American Singer-Songwriter, producer and actor. Hayes is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Hayes is also a three time Grammy Award winner.
Isaac Lee Hayes Jr. was born on August 20, 1942 in Covington, Tennessee. At an early age, his father abandoned his family while his mother died, thus, Hayes was raised by his maternal grandparents. His first exposure to music was as a choir singer at his local church, after which he taught himself how to play the piano, and later the organ, saxophone, and the flute. Despite being offered numerous musical scholarships due to his outstanding abilities, Hayes preferred to stay at home and provide for his family through playing in nightclubs and working at factories.
Hayes then started his career as a sessions musician for ‘Stax Records’. There, Hayes wrote many successful songs with fellow songwriter David Porter for the band “Sam & Dave”, these included the No.2 hit “Soul Man”, “You Don’t Know like I Know”, “Hold On, I’m Coming”, and “When Something is wrong with my Baby”. By 1968, Hayes had released two records titled “Presenting Isaac Hayes” and “Hot Buttered Soul”; the latter was highly revered for its importance in rescuing ‘Stax Records’ after it lost much of its catalog to Atlantic Records. The record also revisited the Dionne Warwick single titled “Walk on By”, which was exceptionally successful.
In 1970, Hayes released “The Isaac Hayes Movement”, and “To be Continued”. In 1971, Hayes wrote the soundtrack album for the Hollywood film, “Shaft”, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, and another Academy Award Nomination for Best Original Dramatic Score. Hayes also wrote soundtracks for later films, including “Three Tough Guys” and “Truck Turner”. The soundtrack was also used for Quentin Tarentino’s “Kill Bill” series.
Hayes was forced into bankruptcy following the end of 1976 due to several disputes with the Stax Records Ownership. The bankruptcy meant that Hayes would lose almost all of his personal property, as well as rights to future loyalties from all his recorded material. Even so, Hayes signed with Polydor records and released much better selling albums, including “For the Sake of Love” and “New Horizon”. Hayes returned to the Top 40 charts with another album that was titled “Don’t Let Go”.
After 1980, Hayes featured in many films and movies. These included the 1981 release “Escape from New York”, the 1988 release “I’m Gonna Hit You Sucker” and the 1993 comedy “Robin Hood: Men in Tights”. He also starred in “Prime Target”, “The A-Team”, and “Miami Vice”. Hayes also made regular cameo appearances in the largely famous comedy series, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”. Hayes went on to feature in the highly controversial comedy series, “South Park”.
Hayes was consistently involved in philanthropic pursuits, especially since 1999 after he founded the Isaac Hayes Foundation. He was also involved with multiple human rights groups, including the famous “One Campaign”. Hayes was also honored in Ghana in recognition for his humanitarian efforts for the country.
Isaac Hayes died on August 10, 2008 in Memphis, Tennessee due to complications arising from a stroke. He was honored by having a section of the Interstate 40 highway named after him.