Isaac Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this past March. He just turned 60, and has three shows coming up in September: Sept. 19, 2002 Alexandria, VA - The Birchmere; Sept. 20, 2002 Uncasville, Conn - Mohegan Sun; Sept. 21, 2002 Brooklyn, NY - Verizon Music Fest. In addition, his outstanding keyboard work can be heard on the new reissue of William Bell's classic Stax album, The Soul of a Bell.
Another man with Isaac Hayes' credentials - musician, singer, songwriter, producer, actor, humanitarian, radio personality - would be called a chameleon, but Hayes has always been resolutely, undeniably himself. As a sideman at Stax, then co-producer and co-writer (with David Porter) of the great Sam & Dave hits ("Hold On I'm Comin'," "Soul Man," "I Thank You," "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby") and others for Otis Redding, Carla Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, William Bell, Judy Clay and the Bar-Kays, Hayes helped define soul music in the '60s.
Then, as a solo artist Hayes stretched the boundaries of soul adding strings and social themes; with Sly Stone, Gamble and Huff, Curtis Mayfield and Norman Whitfield, he helped move black music from a singles to an album format. On albums like Hot Buttered Soul, The Isaac Hayes Movement, To Be Continued, Black Moses, and especially the Oscar and Grammy-winning Shaft, Hayes took his brand of elegant but funky soul to a huge new audience.
Isaac Hayes was born August 20, 1942 in Covington, Tennessee. He lived on a farm until he was 7, then moved with his maternal grandparents (who raised him) to Memphis. The family was musical and active in the church, school and community. Hayes' first public performance was a duet with his sister at church when he was 3. Already the musical perfectionist, Hayes halted his sister mid-performance when she made a mistake.
In high school Hayes won a singing contest, noted the attention his performance generated, and said "Hmm, this is what I want to do." He took a year of band (tuba then sax) and began singing with a variety of combos: rock 'n' roll, doo wop, blues, gospel, jazz.
"I loved it all - this adventure into music - I was sucking up everything like a sponge," he says.
"With the blues band we played the juke joints of Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas. We didn't make much money: it was all the corn liquor you could drink and enough money to get back home. If the owner didn't feel like paying you, he didn't pay you and you didn't argue because he had a .38 pistol on his hip," he laughs darkly. "With gospel it was all the food you could eat, and then maybe a collection was taken up for expenses."