Isaac Hayes, the great Memphis singer/composer who helped make Stax-Volt a major record company in the '60s and '70s and whose extended oeuvres of soul and r & b hits made himself a household name for the last several decades., was pronounced dead Sunday at Baptist Memorial Hospital East.
The singer was reportedly found unconscious in his Memphis home sometime after noon Sunday by his wife, who immediately called for medical assistance.
The 65-year-old Hayes, who had been in declining health for some time, had nevertheless continued to be an active presence not only musically but in assorted civic activities.
Along with co-composer David Porter, Hayes was the creative eminence behind many of Stax-Volt's early hits, and Hayes became a successful singer in his own right with such albums as Hot Buttered Soul (1969) and Black Moses (1971) . He also scored several films, including Shaft, for which he won an Academy Award. He would accumulate three Grammy awards during his career and was a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Hayes also involved himself in a number of social causes, becoming prominent in the Scientology movement. Like numerous other musical artists, he went in and out of difficult economic phases during the course of his career, but never quite retired and could still electrify audiences in his increasingly rare public appearances.
Among those remembering Hayes was 9th District congressman Steve Cohen , on behalf of whose reelection campaign Hayes had recently appeared in a series of well-seen ads.
"Isaac Hayes was our emissary to the world for over four decades," Cohen said. "His music and his love of his fellow man transcended all racial boundaries. His contributions to this city and its culture were many, and his friends were even more numerous. I was fortunate enough to have him as my friend, and I was blessed to have his support in my most recent election.
"His music, his talent, and his spirit will live on. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Adjowa and his entire family. He was a soul man and a great man, and like Moses, there will never be another."