One of the coolest individuals this planet has ever known died today. In addition to his role as Chef on South Park and as composer of the theme to “Shaft,” Isaac Hayes was also a hit maker for Stax Records in Memphis, writing Sam and Dave’s two biggest hits, “Hold On, I’m Coming” and “Soul Man,” among many, many others. He was also one of the first soul musicians to approach the album as an art form rather than as a compilation of singles with “Hot Buttered Soul” and the double-album “Black Moses.” In addition to his film work in “I’m Gonna Get You Sucka” and “Hustle and Flow” (not to mention the MST3K-worthy “Truck Turner”) he had recently completed filming the movie “Soul Men” with Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac.
He collapsed today in his home. He was 65 years old.
I got the chance to meet him last summer in L.A. at the Hollywood Bowl. I now seriously regret not taking advantage of a mutual friend’s access to hang out more with this legendary gentleman.
I’d also like to clear up something about his departure from South Park. Isaac had suffered a stroke at the time, and his management had requested he be released from his contract. It was not Isaac’s decision, it was theirs.
Go download “Walk on By” (the 12 minute version) and find out what a master composer, arranger, and vocalist Isaac Hayes was. There aren’t many people left in the world who can truly be considered “legendary.” Now there’s one less.