Soul legend Isaac Hayes was found dead today at his home in Memphis, TN. He was 65. His wife found him unconscious next to his treadmill, which was still running. Paramedics could not revive him and he was pronounced dead shortly after 2:00 p.m., according to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department. There is no foul play, but cause of death details are not known.
He was the larger than life soul singer, perhaps best known as the composer for the blaxploitation flick Shaft, for which he won an Oscar and recently as the voice of Chef on South Park. His passing somehow seems more sad and devastating than yesterdays passing of comedian Bernie Mac.
Hayes was a longtime songwriter and arranger for Stax Records in Memphis, playing in the studio’s backup band and crafting tunes for artists such as Otis Redding and Sam and Dave in the 1960s.
He released his first solo album in 1967, and his 1969 follow-up, “Hot Buttered Soul,” became a platinum hit.
In 1971, the theme from “Shaft” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks and won an Academy Award for best original theme song. The song and the movie score also won Grammy awards for best original score and movie theme.
Hayes won a third Grammy for pop instrumental performance with the title track to his 1972 “Black Moses” album.
From the late 1990s through 2006, Hayes provided the voice of “Chef” for Comedy Central’s raunchy animated series “South Park,” as well as numerous songs.
The role introduced him to a new generation of fans, but he left after the show lampooned his own religion, the Church of Scientology.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. In a CNN interview at the time, Hayes credited his success to “adjusting and constantly evolving, expanding and trying to stay as young as I can.”
The new generation of popular musicians, he said, “could use a little more substance like we had in the day.”
“They’re standing on our shoulders. Some of them don’t realize [it] because they sample me so much,” he said.
His soundtrack for Shaft is perhaps one of the greatest things in life, a record that is constantly on at parties, while I’m cleaning, driving through town. There is no end to how much that record owns, just straight kills almost anything released currently. Isaac Hayes you will be missed.
Also, the track he did on South Park for “Chocolate Salty Balls” is one of the funniest thing that show has ever done. I think it was the same episode Cartman found out his mom was a German porn star because she was sleeping with everyone including Chef.
The obviousness of Chef singing about the recipe for his chocolate salty balls and how we should suck on them and put them in our mouths. Genius. They weren’t even trying to hide the subtext, which would have been one way to go, but going for the obvious sexual innuendo put it over the top. There is no denying this. There is no way you can say this song is not funny.