Isaac Hayes — Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, Academy Award winner, Grammy winner, soul legend — performs at the Michigan State Fair in Detroit on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2002. Hayes was pronounced dead at Baptist East Hospital in Memphis an hour after he was found by a family member on Sunday. He was 65. (AP photo/Paul Warner)
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Isaac Hayes, the baldheaded, baritone-voiced soul crooner who laid the groundwork for disco and whose “Theme From Shaft” won both Academy and Grammy awards, died Sunday afternoon after he collapsed near a treadmill, authorities said. He was 65.
Hayes was pronounced dead at Baptist East Hospital in Memphis an hour after he was found by a family member, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said.
With his muscular build, shiny head and sunglasses, Hayes cut a striking figure at a time when most of his contemporaries were sporting Afros. His music, which came to be known as urban-contemporary, paved the way for disco as well as for romantic crooners like Barry White.
And in his spoken-word introductions and interludes, Hayes was essentially rapping before there was rap. His career hit another high in 1997 when he became the voice of Chef, the sensible school cook and devoted ladies man on the animated TV show “South Park.”
“Isaac Hayes embodies everything that’s soul music,” Collin Stanback, an A&R executive at Stax, told The Associated Press. “When you think of soul music you think of Isaac Hayes — the expression … the sound and the creativity that goes along with it.”
Hayes was about to begin work on a new album for Stax, the soul record label he helped build to legendary status. And he had recently finished work on a movie called “Soul Men” in which he played himself, starring Samuel Jackson and Bernie Mac, who died on Saturday.
Steve Shular, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said authorities received a 911 call after Hayes’ wife and young son and his wife’s cousin returned home from the grocery store and found him collapsed in a downstairs bedroom. A sheriff’s deputy administered CPR until paramedics arrived.
“The treadmill was running but he was unresponsive lying on the floor,” Shular said.
The album “Hot Buttered Soul” made Hayes a star in 1969. His shaven head, gold chains and sunglasses gave him a compelling visual image.
“Hot Buttered Soul” was groundbreaking in several ways: He sang in a “cool” style unlike the usual histrionics of big-time soul singers. He prefaced the song with “raps,” and the numbers ran longer than three minutes with lush arrangements.
“Jocks would play it at night,” Hayes recalled in a 1999 Associated Press interview. “They could go to the bathroom, they could get a sandwich, or whatever.”
Next came “Theme From Shaft,” a No. 1 hit in 1971 from the film “Shaft,” starring Richard Roundtree.
“That was like the shot heard ‘round the world,” Hayes said in the 1999 interview.
At the Oscar ceremony in 1972, Hayes performed the song wearing an eye-popping amount of gold and received a standing ovation. TV Guide later chose it as No. 18 in its list of television’s 25 most memorable moments. He won an Academy Award for the song and was nominated for another one for the score. The song and score also won him two Grammys.(p2)
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Bernie Mac blended style, authority and a touch of self-aware bluster to make audiences laugh as well as connect with him. For Mac, who died last Saturday at age 50, it was a winning mix, delivering him from a poor childhood to stardom as a standup comedian, in films including the casino heist caper “Ocean’s Eleven” and his acclaimed sitcom “The Bernie Mac Show.” More »