Musician Isaac Hayes Dies At 65

Legendary soul singer Isaac Hayes died Sunday in Memphis at the age of 65. Hayes helped turn Memphis into "Soulsville, USA," and wrote that definitive anthem — the "Theme From Shaft."

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He helped turn Memphis into "Soulsville, USA," and he wrote the definitive anthem - the "Theme From Shaft."

(Soundbite of song "Theme From Shaft")

Mr. ISAAC HAYES (Musician): They say this cat Shaft is a bad mother…

Unidentified Woman: Shut your mouth.

Mr. HAYES: I'm talking about Shaft.

Unidentified Woman: Then we can dig it.

SEABROOK: Isaac Hayes built a brand of funky southern fried soul during the 1960s and '70s that became the foundation of disco music. He died today in Memphis at age 65. Isaac Hayes was born in a tin shack and shined shoes on Beale Street in Memphis. He graduated from that to session artist at Stax Records. That's the place where Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett took off.

In a 2005 interview on NPR's DAY TO DAY, Hayes explained that he didn't always want to make music.

Mr. HAYES: I wanted to be a doctor, but I won a talent contest and I would get, wow, give me your autograph. Have lunch, look, we buy you lunch. Really? Career change. So I wanted to be a performer.

SEABROOK: Hayes got a record deal with Stax and released "Hot Buttered Soul" in 1969. The album's long grooves made him a star. His next smash came two years later with the Grammy winning Shaft soundtrack. Hayes once called that album the shot heard 'round the world. In all, Isaac Hayes recorded more than two dozen albums.

He also was the voice of Shaft on the subversive TV cartoon "South Park." Isaac Hayes was found today beside the treadmill in his Memphis home. He was declared dead an hour later at the nearby hospital.

(Soundbite of song "Do Your Thing")

Mr. HAYES: (Singing) If the music makes you move, because you can really groove. Groove on. Groove on. If you feel like you want to make love under the stars above.

SEABROOK: And that's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Andrea Seabrook. Have a good night.

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