Covington in Tipton County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
— Tennessee Music Pathways —
Born in Covington on Aug. 20, 1942, Isaac Lee Hayes Jr. moved to Memphis at an early age, attended Manassas High School, and graduated in 1962. He was working in a meatpacking plant and playing piano on club dates with saxophonist Floyd Newman when Newman brought him to Stax as a potential replacement session pianist for Booker T. Jones. Hayes' first session was for Otis Redding in 1964.
At Stax, Hayes met aspiring songwriter David Porter. Together, they wrote songs for the Bar-Kays, Carla Thomas, the Emotions, Homer Banks, Sam & Dave, the Soul Children, and many others. They also arranged and produced many of ; the sessions. Their work included eight successive Top 20 R&B hits for Sam & Dave, including “You Don't Know,” “Hold on, I'm Coming” and
Hayes began recording under his own name in 1968. Up to that point, R&B and soul albums usually contained singles-length songs, but Hayes' second album, Hot Buttered Soul, comprised just four extended set-piece songs and employed a full orchestra. On later albums, Hayes explored African-American cultural issues, paving the way for Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye and others to redefine the soul album. Hayes also changed the presentation of African-American music, wearing gold chains, fur, leather and sunglasses. “The chains at one time represented bondage,” Hayes told Robert Gordon. "Now it [is] a symbol of power.”
In 1971, Hayes began work on the soundtrack for “Shaft,” a movie written and directed by and starring African-Americans. Hayes' title song, memorable for its wah-wah guitar and 16th-note hi-hat ride, established the movie's tempo and edginess. The soundtrack won three Grammy awards. Hayes was also the first African-American to win the Oscar for Best Music, Original Song. Edited down, the “Theme From Shaft” became a No. 1 pop and R&B single.
Hayes' involvement as headliner was crucial to the success of Wattstax, a concert and charity event marking the fifth anniversary of the 1967 Watts riots that left 34 dead. Staged at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, it was filmed for release by Columbia Pictures
By the time Wattstax appeared, Stax was encountering financial problems. Personally in debt, Hayes sued to be released from his Stax contract. His subsequent records embraced disco music, but with limited success.
Branching into television, Hayes had numerous credits, but was best known as the voice of Chef in Comedy Central's animated show “South Park.”
Among many honors, Isaac Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005. He died in Shelby County on Aug. 10, 2008.
Erected by Tennessee Music Pathways.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music. In addition, it is included in the Grammy Award Winners, and the Tennessee Music Pathways series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is August 20, 1942.
Location. 35° 33.884′ N, 89° 38.762′ W. Marker is in Covington, Tennessee, in Tipton County. Marker is at the intersection of East Liberty Avenue (Tennessee Route 54) and East Court Square, on the right when traveling west on East Liberty Avenue. Marker is located in Park on the Square, an open space between two buildings. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 102 E Liberty Ave, Covington TN 38019, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Hotel Lindo (within shouting distance of this marker); Tipton County in the Civil War (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Tipton County Confederate Monument (about 300 feet away); Canaan Missionary Baptist Church History (about 500 feet away); Frances Boyd Calhoun (about 700 feet away); St. Matthew's Episcopal Church (approx. 0.2 miles away); Thomas Goode (approx. 0.2 miles away); Cadmus Marcellus Wilcox (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Covington.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 26, 2022. It was originally submitted on June 26, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 193 times since then and 138 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on June 26, 2022, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.