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Isaac Hayes no more

August 12, 2008 11:43 IST

American soul, funk and R&B legend Isaac Hayes was found dead Sunday at his home in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Academy Award-award winning musician was 65. His body was reportedly found near a piece of exercise equipment, and no foul play is suspected.

Best known for the Oscar-winning Shaft theme song, the talented singer, songwriter and composer was always a music prodigy, even throughout an impoverished childhood.

After graduating high school in 1962, he turned down offers for music scholarships -- he played the saxophone and the piano -- and set off in search of career in the music industry. He didn't take to make a name for himself, as his 1969 album, Hot Buttered Soul album, brought his unique blend of funky soul to mainstream audiences.

From there, he moved on to the theme for Shaft, the song which won an Oscar, three Grammy awards and a Golden Globe award. The poor farmer's son was now known the world over.

Over the next two decades, Hayes would demonstrate a diverse range of talent: songwriting, singing, studio work and acting.

After staying out of the limelight for much of the 1990's, in 1997 he made his triumphant return as the role of 'Chef' in the cartoon comedy South Park. Through this role, which required zany dialogue and frequent love songs, Hayes found his niche, and his performances went on to earn him great reviews. But the success was fleeting.

An ardent follower of Scientology, Hayes quit South Park in a fury following a 2006 episode that poked fun at the religion and its celebrity followers, particularly Mission Impossible star Tom Cruise.

Hayes was married four times and fathered 12 children, according to US magazine. Aside from his legacy as a singer, Hayes will be remembered for his commitment to charity and philanthropy, especially for organisations that seek to improve the education infrastructure in Africa.

He is survived by his current wife Adjowa, whom he married in 2005.