A repository of Lady Dove's musings on arts, entertainment and culture.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Isaac Hayes Last Words Spoken to Me: The Lady Dove - Part I of II

Soul Legend Dead 10 Days Shy of Birthday
Would Have Been 66 Today: August 20, 2008

More than a week has passed since we received the shocking news of the deaths of Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes. However my thoughts and prayers are still with these legendary entertainment icons and their loved ones. Especially Isaac Hayes.

Not only have I been a huge Isaac Hayes fan since he emerged as a superstar during the early 1970s, I was also perhaps the last print journalist that he granted an interview to prior to his death. We spoke on the telephone Wednesday, August 6th, from him home in Memphis, Tennessee. Subsequently, the article that started out as a feature story evolved into an obituary that appeared on the front page of the Philadelphia Tribune on Tuesday, August 12th.


What about the stroke you suffered a few years ago? How’s the recovery process coming along?
“I had an illness – had a stroke – but I got past that. The stroke was due to undetected high blood pressure. I had to learn how to do everything over again. I couldn’t count. I had to relearn how to read. I had to learn how to swim. Everything. I forgot everything. My advice is that if you’ve got high blood pressure, you’d better watch it. Watch very carefully.”

Mr. Hayes said he even had to relearn all of his music and that during recent concerts he had to place the words to the songs on a music stand onstage.
“In order to get well,” he continued, “I just did all the programs they do when you have a stroke. I ate right after that. You get a stroke, you eat right then.”

How’s Your Energy Level? How is Life After the Stroke?
“It’s good. I swim now. I haven’t mastered it yet but I will. The program they have me on – therapy – all kind of stuff like that. I’m getting stronger and stronger every day. I’m strong, mentally.

“You have to tell people about these things – strokes and all that stuff. When I had that stroke, I didn’t know nothin' and I had to come back. Since then I’ve been doing gigs and all that stuff now. Three or four weeks ago I was in Pittsburgh. I had strings and all that stuff. I did a show there and blew the people away.”

How did you come up with the music for the soundtrack to the movie “Shaft”? Can you describe your creative process?
“When I wrote Shaft it was a good time. Gordon Parks commissioned me to do it. It took three days to do the music. On the first day I wrote the music. On the second day I did the horns and the strings. And on the third day I wrote the lyrics. Yeah, I wrote that album in three days. I just did it.”

What are your fondest memories about “Shaft” and the Academy Award?
“When I won the Academy Award, my grandmother was my date. I met Charlie Chaplin that night too. He had been in exile. When I went over to his table, he congratulated me and all that stuff. My grandmother told me, ‘Don’t worry about it. You gonna’ win.’ When they called my name and I went on stage, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Joel Grey were backstage. Sammy was saying, ‘I told you! I told you!’ That was a great time.”

Where Do You Keep Your Oscar Statue?
“I got it here. I keep it in my living room. They’re so many awards; I’ve gotten all kinds of awards since then.”

“All kinds of awards” indeed. And now, my beloved, the legendary Isaac Hayes is the recipient of his greatest award, which is actually his reward in heaven: Yes, Isaac Hayes’ greatest reward is his ascension from this earth plane to heaven. May God Rest Your Soul Isaac Hayes. God Rest Your Mighty, Mighty Soul.

Asante Sana & Amen,

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