Sunday, August 10, 2008

Isaac Hayes found dead at age 65

Isaac Hayes

Never can say goodbye...

Musician and actor Isaac Hayes' wife called police to their Memphis home after discovering him unconscious. Taken to a hospital, he was pronounced dead at 2:08 PM (EST). The cause of death is not immediately known, but family members believe it was a medical condition. Hayes was hospitalized for exhaustion in January 2006 and reportedly suffered a stroke that year.

A self-taught musician...

Hayes was initially hired as a back-up pianist for Stax Records and saxophone player. He established himself as a songwriter along with David Porter penning such hits as "Hold On, I'm Coming" and "Soul Man" for musical act Sam and Dave. In 1969 his solo album Hot Buttered Soul brought him fame and in 1971 he scored the film Shaft. The theme was a number one hit and for it Hayes won an Academy Award and along with the score won two Grammys.

In the same year, in a politically-charged era, Hayes's Black Moses album established him as a black leader, and he became actively involved in the campaign to promote black civil rights.

It was inevitable that as well as scoring films, he would act in them too. His first role came with the 1974 Truck Turner; he appeared in some 60 movies on TV and the big screen, the most recent being the horror flick Return to Sleepaway Camp.

Isaac Hayes
Hayes was a major influence on the course of black music

Alongside his film and musical career, Isaac Hayes became increasingly involved with humanitarian causes. The 1990s saw him travel to the West African state of Ghana to shoot a video with Barry White. It was the first of many visits there during which he helped fund a school to help the spread of literacy.

He was made a Ghanaian king with the title Nene Katey Ocansey. In 2005, he married a Ghanaian woman - his fourth marriage. He has 12 children.

In 1993 he became involved with Scientology and within two years had established the Isaac Hayes Foundation aimed at increasing literacy across the globe. (Source: BBC News)

Later success included most notably voicing the character, Chef, on South Park. However, when the show lampooned Scientology, a religious movement to which Hayes belonged, he pointedly quit the show. Time will tell how Hayes will be remembered best but he definitely left a mark on not just Black music but popular culture as a whole.

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