Today (August 20th) would have been R&B pioneer Isaac Hayes' 76th birthday. Hayes is best known for his years as a writer, performer, and producer for the legendary Stax label, having composed, along with his partner David Porter, Sam & Dave's landmark '60s hits “Hold On! I'm Comin',” “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby,” “You Don't Know Like I Know,” “Soul Man,” and “I Thank You,” among other hits, including Carla Thomas' “B-A-B-Y.”
Hayes died of what is believed to be a stroke on August 10th, 2008.
As a solo performer, Hayes scored hits with his cover of Dionne Warwick's “Walk On By,” and “Theme From Shaft,” which topped the charts in 1971. “Theme From Shaft” earned Hayes two Grammys, and an Oscar for Best Song In A Motion Picture — making him the first African-American songwriter to win an Academy Award.
In 2005, Hayes published the cookbook, titled Comfort Foods: A Collection Of Recipes For Eating Well With Chronic Kidney Disease, which was dedicated to his good friend, the late Barry White. That same year, Hayes welcomed his fifth child, a son named Nana Kwadjo Hayes.
Shortly before his death, Isaac Hayes shed some light on his early days, which informed the work he did and his life choices very early on: “It was poverty. Now mind you, it was not easy. There were as lot of dark days, man, when no food — go to school hungry, come back home hungry. I was a high school dropout in the ninth grade, because when I reached puberty, you started noticing your clothes and stuff, and you're noticing girls. And I didn't want to go through the humiliation, so I dropped out.”
In recent years, Hayes earned a legion of new fans by providing the voice of Jerome “Chef” McElroy on the Comedy Central animated series South Park. Over the years, Hayes appeared in numerous films, including I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, Robin Hood: Men In Tights, It Could Happen To You, Blues Brothers 2000, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Reindeer Games, Shaft, Dr. Dolittle 2, and Hustle & Flow.
In January 2006, Hayes checked himself into a Memphis hospital after suffering a stroke. Shortly after that, Hayes backed out of his long-standing role as Chef on South Park, after the show poked fun of the Church Of Scientology, of which he was a member. That June, Hayes canceled a series of concert dates due to an unspecified heart condition. Hayes soon rebounded and actively returned to performing, and was among the first acts to sign with Concord Records' revived Stax label.
In 1992 Hayes was crowned an honorary king of Ghana's Ada district. Isaac Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.