Isaac Hayes was found unresponsive by his treadmill in his Memphis home today (8/10) at about 2 PM central time. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Foul play is not suspected. Although no cause of death has been immediately released, Hayes had a number of medical problems including having suffered a stroke in 2006.
Hayes won a Grammy and Oscar for the theme to the 1971 blockbuster film Shaft, one of the few "blaxploitation" films to achieve a mainstream audience. In fact, one could argue that the success of Shaft contributed to the glut of blaxpoitation films in the early 70s. Hayes suffered a career lull and even had to file for bankruptcy. However, his career revived and introduced him to a new audience when he voiced Chef on South Park.
Hayes' best-known album is Hot Buttered Soul, an album of unconventional (for 60s mainstream radio) songs. Most notable was his 18-minute rendition (complete with an eight-minute introductory rap) of Jimmy Webb's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," the big country and pop hit by Glen Campbell.
What is so eerie about the timing of Hayes' death is that it comes one day after comic/actor Bernie Mac's death from complications of pneumonia. Hayes had recently completed filming a small part in the forthcoming film Soul Man, playing himself. Bernie Mac was the star of that movie.
Isaac Hayes was 65; he would have turned 66 on August 20.