R.I.P. Isaac Hayes: See Ya Later, Chef...

Categories: Whatever

Man, despite all my classic-rock revelry, this weekend actually turned out to be kind of a bummer. First we lose Bernie Mac, then news comes yesterday that soul and South Park icon Isaac Hayes has passed on as well. Much more than the baritone behind the animated Comedy Central series' "Chocolate Salty Balls," Hayes, sometimes called Black Moses after the title of his 1971 album, was of course most famous for the composing the funkiest song to ever win the Academy Award for Best Original Song, "Theme from Shaft" (also from 1971; below).

According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Hayes, 65, was discovered by his family near a still-running treadmill in the master bedroom of his Memphis home. (A native of nearby Covington, Tenn., Hayes is survived by his fourth wife and 12 children.) Hayes' career was as prolific as his family life: He played the title character in the 1973 film Truck Turner, voiced Chef in 1999's South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut and had a small part in 2005's Oscar-winning, Memphis-filmed Hustle & Flow, among many other roles.


Isaac Hayes (as Chef), "Chocolate Salty Balls"

With partner David Porter, Hayes was one of the chief songwriters at Memphis' Stax Records in the '60s, penning soul standards like Sam & Dave's "Hold On, I'm Coming" and "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby" and Carla Thomas' "B-A-B-Y," while recording epic reinterpretations of pop songs such as Burt Bachrach's "Walk on By" and Jimmy Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" for his solo albums, including 1969 debut Hot Buttered Soul.

Texas rockers seemed to especially enjoy Hayes' work. ZZ Top chose their remake of Hayes & Porter's "I Thank You" as one of the singles from 1979's Deguello LP; it eventually reached No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100. Austin's Fabulous Thunderbirds, meanwhile, elected to follow up 1986 Top 10 hit "Tuff Enuff" with the duo's "Wrap It Up." (It only reached No. 50, but did climb to No. 8 on the Mainstream Rock Chart.) Those two, and a few more of Hayes' greatest hits, after the jump.

Also, if anyone has any Houston-related Hayes anecdotes, please do leave them in the comments. - Chris Gray


ZZ Top, "I Thank You," Live on the BBC's Old Grey Whistle Test, 1979


The Fabulous Thunderbirds, "Wrap It Up," live at Farm Aid '86


Isaac Hayes, "Walk on By"


Isaac Hayes, "Soulville" (also from Shaft; live at the 1973 Wattstax concert in L.A.)


Sam & Dave, "Hold On, I'm Coming"


Sam & Dave, "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby"


Carla Thomas, "B-A-B-Y"

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