Real name: Isaac Lee Hayes
Birthdate: August 20, 1942
Isaac Lee Hayes (born August 20, 1942, in Covington, Tennessee) is an American soul and funk singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, arranger, and actor best known as the voice of "Chef" on the Emmy-winning animated sitcom South Park. He was also one of the creative forces behind Stax Records, for which he served as both an in-house songwriter/producer and a recording artist.
In addition to his work in popular music, Hayes has also written scores for several motion pictures as well. His best known film score, 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. Hayes received a third Grammy for his 1971 album Black Moses.
In 1976, the album cover of Juicy Fruit featured Hayes in a pool with naked women, and spawned the title track single and the classic "Storm Is Over". Later the same year the Groove-A-Thon album featured the singles "Rock Me Easy Baby" and the title track. However, while all these albums were regarded as solid efforts, Hayes was no longer selling big, leading to the closure of Hot Buttered Soul and Hayes and his wife were forced into bankruptcy, owing over $6 million.
1978's For The Sake Of Love saw Hayes record a sequel to Shaft ("Shaft II"), but was most famous for the single "Zeke The Freak", a song that would have a shelf life of decades and be a major part of the House movement in the UK.Universal Pictures screenshot of Isaac Hayes from season three of The Rockford Files, episode "Just Another Polish Wedding".
In 1979, Hayes returned to the Top 40 with Don't Let Go and its disco-styled title track that became a hit single, and also featured the classic "A Few More Kisses To Go". Later in the year he added vocals and worked on Millie Jackson's album Royal Rappin's.
Hayes is also an outspoken Scientologist, frequently identified by Scientology as a success story. He has called Scientology the "gateway to eternity" and "the path to happiness and total spiritual freedom."
In the South Park episode "Trapped in the Closet", a satire and exposé of Scientology which aired on November 16, 2005, Hayes did not appear in his role as Chef. While appearing on the Opie and Anthony radio show about a month after the episode aired, Hayes was asked, "What did you think about when Matt and Trey did that episode on Scientology?" He replied, "One thing about Matt and Trey, they lampoon everybody, and if you take that shit serious, I'll sell you the Brooklyn bridge for two dollars. That's what they do."
On March 20, 2006, Roger Friedman of Fox News reported having been told that the statement was made in Hayes's name, but not by Hayes himself, as he suffered a stroke in January. He wrote: "Isaac Hayes did not quit South Park. My sources say that someone quit it for him. ... Friends in Memphis tell me that Hayes did not issue any statements on his own about South Park. They are mystified." Hayes spokeswoman Amy Harnell denied that Hayes had a stroke.