Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Isaac Hayes 1943 - 2008

With his lascivious bass-baritone and flamboyant wardrobe, Hayes developed a musical persona that was an embodiment of the hyper-masculine, street-savvy characters of the so-called blaxploitation films of the era. In his theme song to Gordon Parks’s “Shaft” from 1971, the title character is summed up in a line that has become a classic of kitsch: “Who’s a black private dick/Who’s a sex machine to all the chicks?”

(Furthermore: “He’s a complicated man/But no one understands him but his woman.”)

The “Shaft” theme won an Academy Award and has become one of his best-known songs. But Hayes’s career stretched far beyond soundtracks. For much of the 1960s and into the ’70s he was one of the principal songwriters and performers for Stax Records, the trailblazing Memphis R&B label, and in the 1990s he revived his career by providing the voice for the amorous and wise Chef on the cable television show “South Park.”

"Chocolate Salty Balls", also on the South Park Christmas CD ...

He penned soul classics like ''Hold On I'm Comin''' for Sam & Dave, helped usher in the era of disco and was a goldmine for countless hip-hop and R&B artists who used his illustrious arrangements as the focal point for their songs decades later. ...

His influence also extended beyond music. His trademarked bald head, full beard and muscular frame, often adorned with a multitude of gold chains, made him a fashion trendsetter at a time when most of his contemporaries were sporting blowout Afros. He was also a symbol of black pride, and an activist for civil rights. ...

Hayes also acted in movies including ''Tough Guys,'' ''I'm Gonna Get You Sucka'' and ''Hustle & Flow.'' He had recently completed the movie ''Soul Men,'' in which he played himself; the film also starred Samuel Jackson and Bernie Mac, who died on Saturday after a bout with pneumonia.

I wou;d really like to have the rest of the week off from posting obituaries.

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