the legendary isaac hayes


Isaac Hayes comes on just like a fearsome festival stand-in—even if his bodyguards are armed only with walkie-talkies, his costume is Sunset Strip African, and the ritual he performs is far more Apollo than Kwotto.

After the MC has asked for a “warm round of applause for the Number One Black Entertainer in the World,” and the band has broken into the “Theme from Shaft,” a black Verushka, her icy beauty accented by her gleaming bald head, stalks onto the stage. She prowls about in a red and white imitation zebra poncho, glaring at the audience. A concubine, perhaps?

Finally, she crooks her finger at stage right. A pause as the anticipation builds and then Isaac Hayes enters. Tall and broad-shouldered, he appears to be cleverly disguised as a grass hut. He moves rigidly, as if on stilts, to the woman; upon closer examination he turns out to be wearing a sort of British magistrate’s wig fashioned out of straw, a long mantle of African cloth and a grass skirt. But there is no doubt that he is an imposingly strong, handsome man.

more from Rolling Stone’s 1972 feature on Hayes here.