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Isaac Hayes –


About Isaac Hayes (1942 – 2008)

Isaac Hayes was born on August 20, 1942, in Covington, Tennessee. His birth name was Isaac Lee Hayes, and he went by the nicknames "The Black Moses" and "Ike". Sometimes, Isaac Hayes is credited as Hayes.

Isaac Hayes was the son of Isaac Sr. and Eula Hayes, who made a meager living by share-cropping. When his mother died early, his father abandoned the children. Isaac's grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Willie Wade Sr. stepped up to the plate and raised the children.

Isaac grew up working on farms, going to school and going to church. His musical gifts and abilites appeared early. At the age of five, he was singing in his church choir. He taught himself how to play the piano, the Hammond organ, the flute and the saxophone.

Hayes attended Manassas High School, but dropped out. His teachers stayed in contact with him, urging him to finish high school, which he did at the age of twenty-one.

Isaac was offered several music scholarships from both colleges and universities, as his musical gifts must of appeared early in his school career. However, Isaac was committed to supporting his family, and turned them all down to continue to work in a meat-packing plant by day, and playing music in night clubs at night.

In the early sixties, Hayes was hired by STAX Records at first to be a session player for various Memphis-based artists with contracts with STAX Records. During the mid-sixties, he and his long time song-writing partner, David Porter, wrote some hits songs for the act, SAM and DAVE, as well as other artists. While Isaac Hayes was becoming a vocalist and a musician, he worked with musicians like Otis Redding, Johnnie Taylor, and Booker T.

In 1966, Isaac married his first wife, Emily Ruth Watson;(1966-1971).

Finally in 1968, Hayes released his own album of songs, PRESENTING ISAAC HAYS, followed by another album, HOT BUTTERED SOUL in 1969.

In 1971, Isaac Hayes won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the theme from SHAFT. The film was also nominated for Best Original Dramatic Score for the movie. Hayes was the first African American composer to win an Oscar.

Isaac also won a GOLDEN GLOBE and a GRAMMY for BEST Original Score for SHAFT.

After getting such attention at the award shows, Isaac tried acting, to supplement his music income. He was in sixty-eight acting projects on film and television, which is very good for a man known for his musical talent.

Even after releasing several albums that were successful, Isaac and his 2nd wife, Mignon Harley;(1973-1986) had to file for bankruptcy because they were 6 million dollars in debt, because of their investment in a Memphis-based, American Association Basketball team, the MEMPHIS TAMS. They were part of a group that owned the team.

Despite upping attendance 66%, hiring an excellent, proven coach, and making it into the semi-finals, the team was still financially struggling.

The American Association were not a patient group, and refused to acknowledge the progress made. The Association instead made more demands that the owner group couldn't achieve, so the team was taken away from them. The owner group lost their investments. The new owners didn't do as well, so the team eventually folded.

By the end of the 1977 bankruptcy court proceedings, Isaac came out black and blue, but still standing with a great attitude. He had lost much of his personal property, as well as his house, plus his rights to any future royalties from his published songs that he had composed, sung or produced. Oh well, Isaac had to start over again!

"There's always hurdles. So I just keep moving, just constantly redefining myself. That's how you stay in the race."

That same year, in 1977, Isaac signed a new deal with Polydor Records, and Isaac was back to making albums again. Over the years, Isaac was able to recover from this economic disaster.

In 1997, Isaac and his songwriting partner, David Porter won a BMI Film & TV Music Award for the theme music heard on the TV series, SOUL MAN.

In 2001, Isaac Hayes brought to life the animated character of the Possum in DR. DOLITTLE 2.

Hayes is best known to teenagers and some adults as the voice of Jerome Chef McElroy from SOUTH PARK. There have been a series of movies and a long running TV series supporting the success of SOUTH PARK.

Isaac Hayes' role as "Chef" in the TV series SOUTH PARK became a regular character after his first appearance on the show was such a hit. He resigned from the show due to religious reasons in 2006. He was a man of deep convictions, and wasn't afraid to state them and take actions.

Isaac explained why he left the show. "There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins. Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored. As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."

Being a proven multi-talented composer and singer, Isaac Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

Hayes explained how he composed music, and why. "Just, you know, you can't put bread in a cold oven. You know, you've got to take your time. You've got to heat it up. So that's what, that's what I like to do with my music. I like to build it, and build it into a maddening, exciting crescendo."

On June 9th, 2005, Isaac Hayes was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

In 2006, along with the rest of the cast of HUSTLE AND FLOW, Isaac was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

On August 10th, 2008, Isaac was found unresponsive at his home. He had died of a massive stroke. Hays was survived by his wife, Adjowa Hayes, twelve children, fourteen grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

Isaac Hayes's notable movie credits include...

HUSTLE & FLOW (2005)
DEAD DOG (2001)
BLUES BROTHERS 2000 (1998)



Isaac Hayes n ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS (1993).