Isaac Hayes

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Isaac Hayes, 1973

Isaac Lee Hayes, Jr. (born August 20, 1942 in Covington , Tennessee , † August 10, 2008 in Memphis , Tennessee) was an American soul musician , composer and actor . In 2002 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame . With his distinctive bass-baritone voice and his spoken chant , the soul singer was a forerunner of rap and hip-hop . He supported the self-confidence of the Afro-American population in the USA with demonstrative confessions for the black civil rights activists and became famous as "Black Moses ".


Hayes' mother died early, his father left and left the upbringing to the grandparents. In addition to attending school, Hayes worked at the age of eleven as a picker in the cotton fields and later as a shoe shine on Beale Street in Memphis. He sang in a gospel choir , learned the saxophone in the school orchestra and began performing in bars with dance bands and a doo-wop group. After teaching himself piano and organ on his own , Hayes played in a number of bands at a young age and won several talent competitions. It took him four attempts, however, until the record company Stax Records in Memphis finally hired him as a replacement keyboard player for the instrumental piece "Frog Stomp" for the Stax house band Booker T. & the MG's . He then quickly rose to become the label's most successful composer and producer. With Booker T. & the MG's he played alongside numerous soul greats such as Otis Redding , Wilson Pickett and Carla Thomas , but then turned more and more to his own compositions and entered into a close collaboration with David Porter . They composed numerous songs, including several hits such as Soul Man , When Something Is Wrong with My Baby and Hold On, I'm Coming for Sam & Dave and Carla Thomas.

These successes encouraged Hayes to pursue a solo career. In 1967 he released his first solo album, Presenting Isaac Hayes ; The commercial breakthrough came with the 1969 album Hot Buttered Soul . It was a triumphant return from a year of grief and depression over the assassination attempt on Martin Luther King , with whom he had arranged to meet on the day of his death. With its complex, elegantly orchestrated arrangements, the album contributed significantly to the creation of a new soul sound and fundamentally changed Memphis soul. On stage, with his clean-shaven head, beard, sunglasses, gold chains and eccentric clothing, he always embodied black self-confidence, which later also conveyed the positive role model of the detective "Shaft" in the film of the same name . Hayes became an idol who exemplified James Brown's message: "I'm black and I'm proud" .

In 1971 he achieved his worldwide breakthrough with the title song for the blaxploitation film Shaft . He won the Oscar , the Golden Globe , two Grammys , the NAACP Award and the Edison Award. The soundtrack album achieved platinum status, something an African-American artist had never achieved before. In memory of the riots in Watts and the Woodstock Festival , Stax Records and its musicians organized the Wattstax music festival by blacks for blacks in August 1972 . The highlight of the open-air concert was the appearance of Hayes. With a limousine and an escort of motorcycles, he drove into the stadium and opened with the theme song by Shaft. As he did so, he bared his upper body, and to great cheers, golden chains emerged as a symbol of the liberation of blacks from the supremacy of whites. At the same time, he was alluding to his image as a sex symbol .

After separating from Stax Records in 1975 , he continued to be successful, also through his collaboration with a number of artists such as Dionne Warwick . On the albums "Chocolate Chip" (1975) and "New Horizon" (1977) he developed a style mixture of disco , funk and soul. In 1977 his record company Stax went bankrupt . As a result, he not only lost part of his fortune, but also all of his copyrights to his compositions. Hayes was therefore forced to appear as an actor in crime series.

He has appeared in supporting roles in television series such as Detective Rockford - Just a Call , Hunter , The A-Team and Miami Vice . He was also seen in films such as The Rattlesnake (1981) by John Carpenter , in Truck Turner or in 1993 in Robin Hood - Heroes in Tights . In the US series South Park , he gave the character of the chef his voice. The popularity of the animated series brought Hayes to first place in the UK charts in December 1998 with the single release of the song Chocolate Salty Balls (PS I Love You) under the name of this character ( Chef ). In 2001 he played the album Songs in A Minor by R&B star Alicia Keys Fender Rhodes and arranged the string and flute passages.

Isaac Hayes was a political person who campaigned for the civil rights of blacks. He took part in the protest marches of Martin Luther King Jr. , the Million-Man March and was actively involved in Memphis against attacks by the white police and for black social programs. Because of his social commitment, he was crowned honorary King (Nene) Katey Ocansey of the Ghanaian Ada district in 1992. He joined the Church of Scientology .

In March 2006, Hayes quit his work on the television series South Park after Scientology was heavily criticized on an episode of the series. According to the company, however, the reason for leaving the series was a recently suffered stroke . One of the two producers on the show, Matt Stone , told the Associated Press, "This has one hundred percent to do with his belief in Scientology ... He has no problem with our show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews - and took loads of checks for it. ”Stone continued,“ Hayes wants a different standard for religions that are not his, and that's where intolerance and fanaticism begin for me . ”The second producer on South Park, Trey Parker , had previously stated that Hayes was the only reason Scientology had not previously been the subject of a South Park episode. He said, “To be honest, what stopped us from doing it before was Isaac Hayes. We knew he was a Scientologist and he's a great guy. So we said, 'We should avoid that first.' ”The decisive factor in filming the episode in question was allegedly a ban imposed on comedian Penn Jillette on his cable TV show Penn & Teller: Bullshit! To crack jokes about the controversial religion.

Hayes was one of the most successful DJs on the New York radio station Kiss FM . He also worked on advertising jingles for Pepsi and Burger King .

On August 10, 2008, Isaac Hayes died of a stroke at his Memphis home, aged 65. Hayes was married four times and leaves behind his fourth wife Adjowa, with whom he was married since 2005, with their son and eleven other children.

Isaac Hayes, 2007


  • Oscar (Academy Awards)
    1972: Best song for Theme from "Shaft"
    1972: Best Score for Shaft (nomination)
  • Grammy Award
    1972: Best instrumental arrangement for Theme from "Shaft" (arranged by Johnny Allen)
    1972: Best original music written for a film or TV special for Shaft
    1973: Best instrumental performance - Pop for Black Moses

The Rolling Stone listed Hayes, together with David Porter, on rank 75 of the 100 best songwriters of all time .



year title Top ranking, total weeks, awardChart placementsChart placements
(Year, title, rankings, weeks, awards, notes)
1969 Hot Buttered Soul - - - US8th

(81 weeks)US
1970 The Isaac Hayes Movement - - - US8 (75 weeks)
as Isaac Hayes Movement
To Be Continued - - - US11 (56 weeks)
1971 Shaft - - UK17 (13 weeks)

(60 weeks)US
Instrumental Album, Film Soundtrack: Shaft ,
as Best of Shaft appeared
Grammy (Soundtrack)
Black Moses - - UK38 (1 week)
US10 (34 weeks)
Instrumental album,
Grammy (Instrumental Pop)
1972 In the beginning - - - US102 (12 weeks)
originally appeared in 1968 as
Presenting Isaac Hayes
1973 Live at the Sahara Tahoe - - - US14th

(? Where.)US
Joy - - - US16

(27 weeks)US
1974 Tough guys - - - US146 (8 weeks)
Instrumental album,
film soundtrack: Three Tough Guys
Truck turner - - - US156 (9 weeks)
Instrumental album,
film soundtrack: Truck Turner
1975 Chocolate chip - - - US18th

(19 weeks)US
1976 Disco Connection - - - US85 (17 weeks)
as Isaac Hayes Movement
Groove-a-thon - - - US45 (12 weeks)
Juicy Fruit (Disco Freak) - - - US124 (7 weeks)
1977 A man and a woman - - - US49 (13 weeks)
Live album with Dionne Warwick
New Horizon - - - US78 (12 weeks)
1978 For the sake of love - - - US75 (18 weeks)
1979 Don't let go - - - US39

(30 weeks)US
Royal Rappin's - - - US80 (19 weeks)
1980 And once again - - - US59 (15 weeks)

gray hatching : no chart data available for this year

More albums

  • 1968: Presenting Isaac Hayes
  • 1972: Wattstax - The Living World
  • 1975: Use Me
  • 1978: Hotbed
  • 1981: Lifetime Thing
  • 1986: U-Turn
  • 1988: Love Attack
  • 1995: Branded
  • 1995: Raw & Refined (as Isaac Hayes Movement)
  • 2003: Live at Wattstax '72
  • 2004: Wonderful (various singles, recorded between 1970 and 1974)


year title Top ranking, total weeks, awardChart placementsChart placements
(Year, title, rankings, weeks, awards, notes)
1975 The Best of Isaac Hayes - - - US165 (4 weeks)
2005 Ultimate Isaac Hayes: Can You Dig It? - - - US171 (1 week)

gray hatching : no chart data available for this year

More compilations

  • 1971: Isaac Hayes
  • 1971: This Is Isaac Hayes
  • 1972: This Is Isaac Hayes Vol. 2
  • 1973: Portrait of Isaac Hayes
  • 1973: The Best of Isaac Hayes
  • 1976: The Best of Isaac Hayes
  • 1976: Golden Hour Presents Isaac Hayes
  • 1978: Chronicle
  • 1978: The Best of Isaac Hayes
  • 1978: Portrait (2 LPs)
  • 1980: Enterprise: His Greatest Hits
  • 1982: Greatest Hit Singles
  • 1986: The Best of Isaac Hayes, Volume 1
  • 1986: The Best of Isaac Hayes, Volume 2
  • 1987: The Very Best Of (2 CDs)
  • 1988: Isaac's Moods - The Best of Isaac Hayes
  • 1988: Greatest Hits
  • 1989: Isaac Hayes - Il Rock
  • 1991: Il Grande Rock
  • 1992: Best of 2 Super Artists on 1 Great Compact Disc (with Barry White )
  • 1993: Double Feature
  • 1993: The Very Best Of
  • 1995: Funky Junky
  • 1995: Greatest Hits
  • 1995: The Collection
  • 1996: The Best of the Polydor Years
  • 1998: The Best of Isaac Hayes
  • 2000: Ultimate Collection
  • 2000: Best Of Isaac Hayes XL (2 CDs)
  • 2000: Out of the Ghetto - The Polydor Years
  • 2001: The Man!
  • 2006: Soul Legends
  • 2007: The Very Best of Isaac Hayes
  • 2014: Legends of Soul - The Time


  • 1977: Four Tracks from Isaac Hayes


year Title
Top ranking, total weeks, awardChart placementsChart placements
(Year, title, album , rankings, weeks, awards, notes)
1969 Walk On By
Hot Buttered Soul
- - - US30 (12 weeks)
By the Time I Get to Phoenix
Hot Buttered Soul
- - - US37 (8 weeks)
1970 I Stand Accused
The Isaac Hayes Movement
- - - US43 (9 weeks)
1971 The Look of Love
To Be Continued
- - - US79 (5 weeks)
Never Can Say Goodbye
Black Moses
- - - US22 (9 weeks)
Theme from "Shaft"
DE35 (2 weeks)
- UK4 (12 weeks)

(13 weeks)US
1972 Do Your Thing
- - - US30 (11 weeks)
Let's Stay Together
Portrait of Isaac Hayes
- - - US48 (7 weeks)
Ain't That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One)
Enterprise: His Greatest Hits
- - - US86 (4 weeks)
Theme from the Men
Live at the Sahara Tahoe
- - - US38 (9 weeks)
1973 Joy Pt. I
The Best of Isaac Hayes
- - - US30 (9 weeks)
1974 Wonderful - - - US71 (8 weeks)
1975 Chocolate Chip
Chocolate Chip
- - - US92 (2 weeks)
1976 Disco Connection
Disco Connection
- - UK10 (9 weeks)
1979 Don't Let Go
Don't Let Go
- - - US18 (21 weeks)
1998 Chocolate Salty Balls (PS I Love You)
Chef Aid: The South Park Album
- - UK1

(13 weeks)UK
as boss (from the cartoon series South Park )
2000 Shaft 2000 - CH86 (8 weeks)
UK53 (1 week)

More singles

  • 1968: Precious, Precious
  • 1969: The Mistletoe and Me
  • 1970: Something
  • 1971: You've Lost That Lovin 'Feelin' (with The Bar-Kays , The Memphis Horns and The Memphis Symphony Orchestra)
  • 1972: I'll Play the Blues for You (Albert King Rhythm by The Barkays & The Movement)
  • 1973: (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right
  • 1973: Rolling Down a Mountainside (Cayendo de una montaña)
  • 1974: Title Theme
  • 1975: Good Love 6-9969
  • 1975: Come Live with Me
  • 1976: Rock Me Easy Baby (Pt. I)
  • 1976: Juicy Fruit (Disco Freak)
  • 1976: Groove-a-Thon
  • 1977: By the Time I Get to Phoenix (with Dionne Warwick )
  • 1977: Out of the Ghetto
  • 1977: Moonlight Lovin '(Mènage á trois)
  • 1977: Stranger in Paradise
  • 1977: Medley (with Dionne Warwick)
  • 1978: Feel Like Makin 'Love
  • 1978: Zeke the Freak
  • 1978: Shaft II
  • 1978: Just the Way You Are
  • 1978: O Melhor De
  • 1979: Feels Like the First Time (with Millie Jackson )
  • 1979: You Never Cross My Mind (with Millie Jackson)
  • 1979: Do You Wanna Make Love (with Millie Jackson)
  • 1979: I Changed My Mind (with Millie Jackson)
  • 1979: A Few More Kisses to Go
  • 1980: I Ain't Never
  • 1980: It's All in the Game
  • 1981: I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
  • 1986: Thing for You
  • 1986: Hey girl
  • 1986: If You Want My Lovin ', Do Me Right (Special Club Mix)
  • 1988: showdown
  • 1991: Dark and Lovely (You Over There) (with Barry White )
  • 1995: Thanks to the Fool
  • 1995: Fragile
  • 1995: So Glad You Were Born
  • 1998: Shaft (Sash! Mix)
  • 1998: Simultaneous (as boss)
  • 1998: Good Love (as boss)
  • 1998: You're the First, the Last, My Everything ( Gloria Gaynor feat. Isaac Hayes)
  • 2001: I Can't Go to Sleep ( Wu-Tang Clan feat. Isaac Hayes)
  • 2001: I Can't Turn Around (King Chocolate's Memphis 2 Chicago Re-Edit) (on Ashley Beedle Re-Edit Series 001 )
  • 2003: Hits from Shaft (limited)

Awards for music sales

Note: Awards in countries from the chart tables or chart boxes can be found in these.

Country / Region Gold record icon.svg gold Platinum record icon.svg platinum Sales swell
Awards for music sales
(country / region, awards, sales, sources)
United States (RIAA) United States (RIAA) Gold record icon.svg 7 × gold7th 0! P- 4,000,000
United Kingdom (BPI) United Kingdom (BPI) 0! G- Platinum record icon.svg platinum1 600,000
All in all Gold record icon.svg 7 × gold7th Platinum record icon.svg platinum1


  • Dream - Isaac Hayes. Documentation, 2008, approx. 12 min., Production: arte , table of contents by arte
  • Wattstax. (30th Anniversary Special Edition), music documentation, USA, 2004, 103 min., Director: Mel Stuart, 2 DVDs, distribution: Warner Home Video, film website

Filmography (selection)


  • with Susan DiSesa: Cooking with Heart & Soul. Putnam, New York 2000, ISBN 978-0-399-14656-5 (cookbook with autobiographical data).

Web links

Commons : Isaac Hayes  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files


  1. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Isaac Hayes in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  2. a b "The Black Moses" , Tagesspiegel , August 12, 2008
  3. a b "Isaac Hayes: He made the Soul even bigger" , Die Presse , August 11, 2008
  4. "Isaac Hayes emancipated black music" , The World , August 12, 2008
  5. ^ "Soul Man" , Süddeutsche Zeitung , August 12, 2008
  7. ^ Roger Friedman: Isaac Hayes' History With Scientology ( Memento March 20, 2013 on the Internet Archive ), in: Fox News, August 11, 2008, accessed August 15, 2009.
  8. Hayes has put stroke, 'South Park' behind him ( Memento from July 20, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) In. My San Antonio from October 26, 2006.
  9. Musician Isaac Hayes dies ( Memento from August 13, 2008 in the Internet Archive ), in: Rheinische Post , August 11, 2008.
  10. "Isaac Hayes and Hayes Adjowa" ,, whoswho
  11. "Isaac Hayes, 65, a Creator of '70s Soul Style, Dies" , New York Times , August 12, 2008
  12. The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. Rolling Stone , August 2015, accessed August 7, 2017 .
  13. a b c Chart sources: Singles Albums US1 US2
  14. a b c gold / platinum databases: UK US
  15. ^ The Billboard Albums by Joel Whitburn , 6th Edition, Record Research 2006, ISBN 0-89820-166-7 .