Los Angeles Tribute to Isaac Hayes and Bernie Mac

Monday, August 11, 2008
6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Leimert Park
5th Street Dicks Coffee House
4305 Degnan Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90008
Crenshaw @ 43rd

This weekend we lost a legend, soul singer Isaac Hayes. Scheduled to headline in two weeks at Los Angeles’ Sunset Junction, Hayes, 65, was found by relatives unconscious in his home next to a still-running treadmill, said Steve Shular, a spokesman for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department. Paramedics attempted to revive him and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 2 p.m., the sheriff’s department said.

According to CNN.com, Hayes, who won Grammy awards and an Oscar for the theme from the 1971 action film “Shaft,” was a longtime songwriter and arranger for Stax Records in Memphis, playing in the studio’s backup band and crafting tunes for artists such as Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Carla Thomas and Johnnie Taylor in the 1960s.

Among the songs he wrote for Stax artists, often with his partner David Porter, were “Hold On, I’m Comin’,” “Soul Man,” “When Something Is Wrong with My Baby” and “B-A-B-Y.”

Hayes released his first solo album in 1967, and his 1969 follow-up, “Hot Buttered Soul,” became a platinum hit. “Hot Buttered Soul” was notable for its lengthy, richly orchestrated covers of “Walk On By” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” and became a hit on underground FM radio.

In 1971, the theme from “Shaft” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks and won an Academy Award for best original theme song. The song and the movie score also won Grammy awards for best original score and movie theme.

Hayes won a third Grammy for pop instrumental performance with the title track to his 1972 “Black Moses” album.

From the late 1990s through 2006, Hayes provided the voice of “Chef” for Comedy Central’s raunchy animated series “South Park,” as well as numerous songs.

The role introduced him to a new generation of fans, but he left after the show lampooned his own religion, the Church of Scientology.

Hayes’ other acting roles included “Tough Guys,” “I’m Gonna Get You Sucka” and “Hustle & Flow.” He played himself in the forthcoming “Soul Men,” with Samuel L. Jackson. “Soul Men” also stars Bernie Mac, who died Saturday.

Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. In a CNN interview at the time, Hayes credited his success to “adjusting and constantly evolving, expanding and trying to stay as young as I can.”

The new generation of popular musicians, he said, “could use a little more substance like we had in the day.”

“They’re standing on our shoulders. Some of them don’t realize [it] because they sample me so much,” he said.

Hayes credited his role on “South Park” with expanding his fan base, and said that he had almost passed on the job.

“I started to walk out. I thought it was a Disney thing. I [had] never heard of this thing,” he said. But his agent persuaded him to tape some episodes.

“Toward the opening I started having trepidations — ‘Oh my god, what have I done? I’ve ruined my career.’ But when it aired, the ratings went through the roof,” he said.

A 1992 visit to the royal family in Ghana was a life-changing experience for Hayes, he said.

“I went back on speaking engagements and encouraged African-Americans to go to Africa [to] interact socially, culturally and/or economically,” he said.