Monday, August 11, 2008

The Passing of a Soul Man -- Isaac Hayes

Another influential figure from my childhood -- songwriter and musician Isaac Hayes -- is gone. I especially loved his soundtrack for the movie Shaft in the early 1970s. My parents played the soundtrack on 8-track?! as we went on a family vacation driving from L.A. to Utah to San Francisco and Mt. Shasta. The funky guitar and bass, soulful horns and piano moved me more than I can write. It was really my first introduction to the power of soul music.

At the time, I had no idea who Isaac Hayes was. I just loved the music which just mesmerized me. I still can't believe my parents bought that soundtrack. They were hardly music enthusiasts. I can't remember much soul being played around my house growing up in Orange County, Calif. (Earth, Wind and Fire was the only other exception.)

Later I found out he co-wrote all those great hits with David Porter for Sam & Dave at Stax Records -- "Soul Man," "Hold On I'm Coming," "I Thank You," and "You Don't Know Like I Know" and many others.

His "Hot Buttered Soul" record in 1969 and Shaft soundtrack in 1972 changed soul music with its long experimental songs and Hayes' low voiced rapping style of singing.

In fact, a lot articles on his passing have stated that Hayes created the foundation for what later became disco and for the popularity of Barry White. I don't think is entirely true. Although he was an influence on White and the best of disco (Donna Summer, Bee Gees), Hayes' music had a funky, soulfulness that both truly lacked. His real influence was felt in the emergence of rap and hip hop. His influence is everywhere in rap from Ice Cube, Snoop Dog, Dr. Dre to Jay Z and Kanye West and too many others to mention.

Before his death, Hayes even joked about it. Hayes recalled telling a record executive who asked him what he had done lately to turn on the radio..and you'll hear his latest a recent hip hop hit...

That will his latest legacy -- the influence he had on other musicians....and artists....

I will remember Isaac Hayes for his musical accomplishments not for his South Park character of Chef. Although I have to admit it was funny and clever.

RIP ... Isaac Hayes.

As he sang in the "Theme from Shaft", he was a "bad mother......" He will be missed.


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