Sunday, August 10, 2008
was an American soul and funk singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, arranger, composer and actor. Hayes was one of the main creative forces behind southern soul music label Stax Records, where he served as both an in-house songwriter and producer with partner David Porter during the mid-1960s. His best known work, for the 1971 blaxploitation film Shaft, earned Hayes an Academy Award for Best Original Song (the first Academy Award received by an African-American in a non-acting category) and two Grammy Awards. He received a third Grammy for the album Black Moses. In 1992, in recognition of his humanitarian work, he was crowned an honorary king of Ghana's Ada district. From 1997 to 2006, he provided the voice for the character "Chef" on the Comedy Central animated TV series South Park. Hayes was found dead in his home located just east of Memphis, Tennessee on August 10, 2008 as reported by the Shelby County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Department. A Shelby County Sheriff's deputy responded to Hayes' home after his wife found him on the floor near a still-running treadmill. Hayes was taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, where he was pronounced dead at 2:08pm.