End of the hits for Hayes

MR BLING: Isaac Hayes has died in Memphis. © Unknown.
MR BLING: Isaac Hayes has died in Memphis. © Unknown.

Gugu Sibiya and Reuters

Gugu Sibiya and Reuters

Popular soul crooner and charismatic actor Isaac Hayes is dead.

He was found unconscious in his Memphis home on Sunday, just days before his 66th birthday and taken to hospital, where he died.

The bald-headed, deep-voiced Hayes - who made a lot of hearts skip a beat - was a captivating presence on the music landscape of the 70s and was a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

His commercial peak came in 1972 when he won an Academy Award for his hit, Theme, from Shaft, an irresistibly urgent mix of wah-wah guitars and hi-hat cymbals spiced with the famous line: "They say this cat Shaft is a bad mother/Shut your mouth!"

Shaft was his first of many forays into movie soundtracks.

He got in front of the camera for the 1974 cult classic Truck Turner and appeared in the hip-hop drama Hustle & Flow.

Before he became a soul singer Hayes was a hitmaker at Memphis soul label Stax Records.

In his later years Hayes reached a new audience by supplying the voice for Chef, the libidinous sage in the cartoon series South Park. But he left the show because he disagreed with its attacks on Scientology, the religious movement he belonged to.