Remembering Isaac Hayes

The award-winning songwriter and erstwhile star of South Park was a hero of mine. What's your favourite image of the iconic man?

Ain't no sunshine when he's gone: Isaac Hayes. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

I once met Isaac Hayes, who died yesterday, at a new music showcase in London about five years ago. Hayes was the special guest introducing the various fledgling acts. After the show, I spotted him at the bar and plucked up the courage to ask him for an autograph - something I have only done about five times in my life. As it tends to when you meet your heroes, time slowed down to a comical pace. Hayes grinned down at me as I spelt my name for him. Then he opened his mouth. With the trademark baritone growl well known to both Stax and Southpark fans, he joked, "You want me to write a novel, doncha?"

This story has entered into family legend. Hayes isn't just my hero - he is universally loved by my clan, raised as we were on a diet of Wattstax, Blaxploitation movies and Hot, Buttered Soul. As a kid I was fascinated by Hayes' various Bowie-like personas for different albums - the PVC-trench coated Shaft character from his 1971 score, the loverman of Hot Buttered Soul (complete with super-sized gold chain) and the righteous image of Hayes in a dashiki and shades as Black Moses.

The lasting image I'll always have of him is his introduction at Wattstax - the label's epic 1973 concert. Coming on in a brightly coloured blanket and hat to the theme from Shaft, the crowd cheer when the hat is removed to reveal that trademark shaved head. They go even more ballistic when the blanket comes off. It's no surprise when, underneath, a topless Hayes is sporting a floor-length loosely linked gold chain getup (he even made his civil rights statements in super-style). Cool as a cucumber, Hayes proceeds to turn the audience to mush with a sprawling version of Ain't No Sunshine.

He might have exited stage right yesterday, but there's no doubt this was a man who knew how to make an entrance. RIP, Mr Hayes - we will miss you.


Lauren Cochrane

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Obituary: Isaac Hayes

Obituary: Soul legend, composer and actor who won an Oscar for the soundtrack of Shaft

Adam Sweeting

11, Aug, 2008 @11:01 PM

Article image
Isaac Hayes 1942-2008
From Shaft to South Park, we look back at the life of soul singer Isaac Hayes, who has died aged 65

11, Aug, 2008 @1:19 PM

Isaac Hayes: A YouTube compilation

Video: Celebrate the life of a soul legend with our gallery of clips

Tim Jonze and Rob Hastings

11, Aug, 2008 @12:00 PM

Article image
Isaac Hayes, Forum, London

Forum, London

John Aizlewood

02, Jul, 2002 @10:52 AM

Article image
Isaac Hayes died of a stroke

Paperwork filed by family physician says Hayes died from a stroke

Sean Magee

13, Aug, 2008 @12:11 PM

Article image
Remembering Christopher Hogwood
The conductor, who died yesterday, was one of music’s most refined and revelatory consciences, writes Tom Service, who picks his five favourite Hogwood recordings

Tom Service

25, Sep, 2014 @12:57 PM

Article image
Remembering Bruno Maderna

Maderna was a musician who couldn't write or conduct a note without wanting to communicate something essential, and essentially human.

Tom Service

13, Nov, 2013 @2:25 PM

Article image
Remembering Ronald Stevenson
The maverick composer-pianist was one of the finest musicians of his generation. Tom Service picks his favourite of his compositions

Tom Service

05, May, 2015 @4:10 PM

Remembering the Rain Parade

Just recently I've been taken back to the Paisley Underground scene of the early 80s and a band whose music still speaks to me today

Alan McGee

13, May, 2008 @3:00 PM

Article image
Jamie Isaac – She Dried: New music

Jamie Isaac makes creepy, slightly unsettling mood music, which fits perfectly with his new creepy, slightly unsettling video

Michael Cragg

24, Feb, 2014 @11:37 AM