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Isaac Hayes - Survive | Behind The Bio Documentary

Updated: Feb 26, 2022

Isaac Lee Hayes Jr. was born in Covington, Tennessee, on August 20th, 1942. At a young age, after his mother died, his father left his family, so Hayes was raised by his maternal grandparents. His initial exposure to music came at his local church as a choir singer, during which he taught himself how to play the piano, and then the organ, the saxophone, and the flute. Hayes opted not to attend college. He stayed home to support his family by performing in nightclubs and working in factories, despite being given several musical scholarships due to his excellent skills.

Beginning of His Career

He started his recording career in 1962, recording for a number of labels. Hayes started to play sax with the Mar-Keys two years later, this would set course for his long-term relationship with Stax Records. Hayes started playing piano in the Stax house band after performing throughout many sessions for Otis Redding, and subsequently formed a relationship with songwriter David Porter. The Hayes-Porter pair produced more than 200 songs under the banner of the Soul Children, including a series of hits for Stax luminaries such as "Sam & Dave," the brilliant "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby," "Soul Man," and "Hold On, I'm Comin'"), Carla Thomas ("B-A-B-Y,"), and Johnnie Taylor ("I Got to Love Somebody's Baby," and I Had a Dream").

Releasing His First Solo – Presenting Isaac Hayes

Hayes released his first solo LP, 'Presenting Isaac Hayes,' in 1967. He achieved his major success with the release of 'Hot Buttered Soul,' in 1969. The adventurous composition of the album (comprising four long songs) made Hayes one of music's most prominent icons. He achieved his mainstream pinnacle in 1971 after a couple of 1970 releases, "The Isaac Hayes Movement" and To Be Continued," with the success of "Shaft," the soundtrack from the Gordon Parks film of the same name. The album earned Hayes an Academy Award for Best Score (the first Black composer to win such an honor) and Hayes produced two 1974 soundtracks, "Theme From " and "Joy" in which he also appeared, the single "Tough Guys" and 1973's "Truck Turner,"

First African American to win an Oscar for Best Song

Shaft's theme song was composed and performed for the 1971 film Shaft by the musician Isaac Hayes. Since it made Hayes the first African American to win the Oscar for original music, this academy award was extremely critical. On the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA, "Theme from Shaft" reached top of the chart.

At the Oscar ceremony in 1972, he gave an unforgettable appearance, receiving the Academy Award for best original music. He has got two Grammy awards for the album and the movie soundtrack.

The performance, coming before his 30th birthday, Made the first and prominent step of Hayes's career, a path for many black performers that had seen him taking the same road.

Establishing His own Hot Buttered Soul

By 1975, after a dispute over royalties, relations with Stax had collapsed, and soon he cut his ties with the label to establish his own Hot Buttered Soul imprint. Although both the "Chocolate Chip" of 1975 and the "Groove-a-Thon" of 1976 went gold, this time his albums received far less interest than previous attempts and Hayes had no choice but to apply for bankruptcy in 1976.

Hayes started a revival following his 1977 double-LP A Man and a Woman," shared with Dionne Warwick. Solo albums that he recorded includes, "By the time I get to Phoenix" (1980s) and "Lifetime Thing" (1981) after the success of his 1979 album of duets with Millie Jackson titled "Royal Rappins," before retirement from music for five years.

Hayes released "U Turn" after returning in 1986 with "Ike's Rap," and the Top Ten R&B hit "Love Attack" before again pulling out of music to concentrate on acting. Hayes debuted with two simultaneous releases, the vocal "Branded" and instrumental "Raw and Refined”, in 1995 after transitioning to Scientology.

Working as a Member of the Royal Family

Hayes also worked as a member of the royal family of the African nation of Ghana under the official name of Nene Katey Ocansey I, despite becoming an actor, musician, and humanitarian. Hayes performed voice work on the animation series South Park in 1997. He also contributed greatly to the South Park tie-in song "Chocolate Salty Balls," the notorious "Chef Aid," and starred in the film "South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut."

Death of the Legend

Hayes starred in the movie remake of "Shaft." in 2000. He collaborated with Alicia Keys the next year. Hayes was known best for his Oscar win, his movies, and music throughout his career. Hayes, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, died after collapsing near a treadmill at his home in Memphis, TN, on August 10, 2008.

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