Wow. When it rains, it pours, and tomorrow’s going to be a Stormy Monday, indeed. This weekend we’ve lost two legends of black entertainment — Bernie Mac on Saturday, and soul legend Isaac Hayes today. The 65 year old soul legend was found unconscious next to a still-running treadmill. He was pronounced dead at 2:08 this afternoon.
Long before he was Chef on South Park, Isaac Hayes shaped the history of American music. As a session player for Stax Records, he co-wrote songs like Soul Man, and When Something Is Wrong With My Baby for Sam and Dave. (Oh how I LOVE that song).
Hayes’ soundtrack to Shaft won an Academy Award and two Grammys in 1971. Classic Isaac Hayes music is straight up baby making material — Your Love is So Doggone Good is a classic, as is A Few More Kisses to Go — clearly the inspiration for Chef’s songs came from hits like that. Isaac Hayes brought a level of storytelling to his craft — Ike’s Rap is compelling, confessional listening. And Ike’s Rap II got most notably remixed and remade as the super sultry Glory Box by Portishead and Tricky’s Hell is Round the Corner.
Isaac’s version of Going in Circles really captures that dense, symphonic, dramatic sound he was celebrated for. His cover of Walk on By became the foundation for the Wu Tang Clan’s wracking lament, I Can’t Go to Sleep.
Pimping Burt Bacharach love songs into extended play low rider anthems was an Isaac Hayes specialty. My favorite is his version of The Look of Love, which is the polar opposite of Dusty Springfield’s version in intent and experience. Isaac Hayes turns it into a ten minute aural orgasm. Check it out.
Aw, yeah. It takes a manly man to pull off a gold chain shirt. But Isaac Hayes wore it well. He had a long, illustrious, and brave career. He was set to hit the silver screen again in Soul Men, alongside Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson — of course you know the internet’s buzzing with curse theories already. I think it’s just tragic coincidence. It’s terribly sad that two of this film’s stars won’t be there at the premiere.
RIP, Isaac Hayes. Heaven just got a little more funky.
** edited at almost 2 in the morning — My fave gossip blog ONTD just posted this story about Soul Men — a comedy that apparently centers around death, that now finds itself in the tragic predicament of losing its most significant cast members before its release. I hope they release it when they planned to. Either way, I’m gonna go see it. As sad as it may make me, Soul Men sounds like a fitting tribute to two legends gone too soon.