Before becoming a 70s icon, Hayes was a session player and songwriter for Stax Records in the 60s. He co-wrote a string of hits with his songwriting partner David Porter, including many for Sam & Dave. He was featured in the documentary RESPECT YOURSELF which we showed in June. Those of you who came to our most recent SOUL NITE a couple of weeks ago saw Sam & Dave in a great 1967 performance doing one of the songs he co-wrote, “You Don’t Know Like I Know.” And of course Hayes was the featured act in WATTSTAX, the 1973 concert film we showed this summer on its 35th anniversary.
I hope Hayes is remembered for more than a bald head, South Park and Scientology. Personally (even though I love the “Shaft” theme, and have a place in my heart for the film “Truck Turner”), its his’ early work for Stax and his 1969 solo breakout album “Hot Buttered Soul” that are my favorite Hayes contributions. In memory, I think everyone should get bare-chested, fix a strong drink, and give a listen to his fantastic reworking of Burt Bacharach’s “Walk On By.”