NPR logo Singer Isaac Hayes Dead at 65

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Singer Isaac Hayes Dead at 65

One day after Bernie Mac's shocking death, we learn of the passing of another African-American star. Academy Award-winning soul music legend Isaac Hayes died in Memphis on Sunday at age 65.

Hayes made history by winning an Oscar for "Theme from 'Shaft'" — the first African American to do so.

He also won a Golden Globe Award and a Grammy Award for the all-time classic.

Known as "Black Moses," Hayes — as a song stylist of the highest degree and a multi-talented instrumentalist — personified black soul music during the 1970s era.

Younger fans may know him for supplying the voice of the character Chef on the hit cartoon series South Park. A devout Scientologist, he would later resign from the show citing religious reasons.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, alongside Bill Withers and John Fogerty.

Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy, referred to Hayes as "a true renaissance man" in a statement issued today.

"After laying the groundwork for the Memphis soul sound through his work with Stax Records, his groundbreaking theme song and score for the movie 'Shaft' cemented his status as a musical icon," Portnow continued about the three-time Grammy Award winner.

"He was actively involved with our Memphis Chapter, sharing his creativity with established professionals and up-and-coming musicians alike," he said, adding that "the world has lost a true creative genius and a passionate humanitarian, but his indelible legacy will remain ever present. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends and all who were inspired by the man and his music."

On an unfortunately macabre note, Hayes will next be seen alongside Samuel L. Jackson and the recently deceased Bernie Mac in the film Soul Men. Please leave your thoughts and well-wishes below.



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RIP Isaac!

So more Shaft here...

Sent by Leopold Stotch | 12:51 PM | 8-11-2008

Loved the theme from Shaft. Was introduced to it in the mid seventies when I was playing in a jazz-rock band in Tampa, Florida. Not sure I ever got to hear the original.

As a jazz-rock piece it was certainly fantastic: wonderful bass line, horns blasting, synchopated percussion...
So much fun.

Paul -

Sent by Paul Maurice Martin | 12:54 PM | 8-11-2008

We have lost so many talented black musical voices, Luther, Barry White, Gerald Levert,Marvin Gaye, and the list goes on. I can't think of another black male musican who have met the standards of these great voices. Isaac was a great talent. Music was music in these guys day.

Sent by Nikki | 9:04 PM | 8-11-2008

You will greatly be missed Mr.Hayes. My condolensces to your family and friends. GOD Bless.

Sent by Larry Anderson | 9:10 AM | 8-12-2008

I made an audio tribute to both Bernie Mac & Issac Hayes last night. I just felt that my words wouldn't be enough.

Sent by Tim Valentine | 9:38 AM | 8-12-2008