Presenting Isaac Hayes

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Isaac Hayes: 1942-2008. Source: Cyberex hide caption

itoggle caption Source: Cyberex

The obits for Isaac Hayes all show pictures of a defiant, imposing bald man wearing chains. And rightly so — that was the iconic look of the Black Moses, of Hot Buttered Soul, which prefigured disco and, in some ways, hip hop, too. Few will remember the picture on the cover of his first album, Presenting Isaac Hayes, which showed a smiling man in top hat and tails; tipping the hat, which let us know that he was bald even then.

As a very young man in the late 1960s, I worked as a combo-operator at WBAI-FM in New York. The combo-operator does eight hour tricks in a radio studio, playing hour and half hour programs on tape, operas and symphonies on records, and taking transmitter readings. I also introduced the various elements, and announced station breaks at the top of the hour. From time to time a program ran short, or didn't show up, and the announcer got the chance to program what we called a "miscellany" — pretty much whatever struck his or her fancy. And my fancy in those days very much included the amazing records issued by Stax/Volt out of Memphis, Tennessee — Otis Redding, Booker T and the MGs, Eddie Floyd, Sam and Dave, Carla Thomas, and Albert King. As a voracious reader of liner notes and record labels, I knew of Isaac Hayes as the house pianist at Stax and co-composer of many of their greatest hits. So when Presenting Isaac Hayes arrived, I listened avidly, and played it many times on the air. Same guy, same voice, very different approach. Piano, bass, and drums, for the most part, much of it very pretty, and none of it with the driving beat that characterized his later work. Despite, or perhaps because of my vast influence, the record vanished without a trace. It's still one of my favorites (sadly, along with all my other vinyl, it's in storage at the moment). If you're looking, it's on Enterprise Records, a tiny offshoot of Stax/Volt.

The world will remember Isaac Hayes for Shaft, his Oscar — the first ever for a black composer — and those chains. I'll remember the top hat and tails.

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I loved Isaac Hayes! My hustbad and I just went to a concernt he had at the Birchmere, in Alexandria, VA. I was angry with my husband, because it's first come, first serve seating. We had tickets that allowed us to be the first seated. However, my husband forgot the tickets and had to go back home to get them. It caused use to sit on the side back-end of the theatre. Even though I had to lean over to see him; his voice was mesmerizing. I loved every minute of just being there to hear him sing. I'm so happy to have experience his live performance!

Sent by Anna | 3:39 PM | 8-11-2008

His best role. "Escape From New York" The Duke, A #1 (Everybody knows that)

Sent by Greg | 3:51 PM | 8-11-2008

I can't stop crying! This has been a horrendous weekend, first Bernie Mac and now Isaac, Black Moses. We love you......rest in peace.

Sent by Evelyn | 4:07 PM | 8-11-2008

I wrote the following poem following an Isaac Hayes concert in Boston in 1971. It was a production that I will never forget.

ISAAC

he
came out
on the
stage.
a robe
covered his
chained shoulders.
she went
before him,
liberated from
the wool from
her head.
when he took
the hat from
his HEAD
we saw ourselves
in the
reflection.
he threw off
the cape
onto her
shoulders
and we saw
The Chains
over his chest.
some screamed
I
sat still.
more they screamed
because he
sang more.
he rose
at the end,
bowed
and
left,
leaving them
stunned.
Fredessa Hamilton (1971)
1992, Words: DC Girl Comes Home

Sent by Fredessa Hamilton | 1:04 PM | 8-12-2008

i guess around 1970 i WAS 17 Isaac Hayes performed at the Cow Palace in San Francisco my friend and i took some seats in the front row and watched him he was like god to us up on stage he even had a bald headed girl dancer a whole lot of great musicians. We followed them to the hotel partied with the band my friend hit on the bald dancer they treated us like family. Saw him years later in Vancouver B.C.1978 maybe, he had a smaller band and i think filed bankruptcy met his drummer who also was the drummer in the Blues brothers band in the movie a few years later i'll miss you Mr. Hayes

Sent by roland terry | 4:01 AM | 8-16-2008