Memphis, Tenn. Isaac Hayes, the baldheaded, baritone-voiced soul crooner who laid the groundwork for disco and whose "Theme From Shaft" won both Academy and Grammy awards, died Sunday afternoon after he collapsed near a treadmill, authorities said. He was 65.
Hayes was pronounced dead at Baptist East Hospital in Memphis an hour after he was found by a family member, the Shelby County Sheriff's Office said. The cause of death was not immediately known.
With his muscular build, shiny head and sunglasses, Hayes cut a striking figure at a time when most of his contemporaries were sporting Afros. His music, which came to be known as urban-contemporary, paved the way for disco as well as romantic crooners like Barry White.
And in his spoken-word introductions and interludes, Hayes was essentially rapping before there was rap. His career hit another high in 1997 when he became the voice of Chef, the sensible school cook and devoted ladies man on the animated TV show "South Park."
"Isaac Hayes embodies everything that's soul music," Collin Stanback, an A&R; executive at Stax, told The Associated Press on Sunday. "When you think of soul music you think of Isaac Hayes - the expression ... the sound and the creativity that goes along with it."
Hayes was about to begin work on a new album for Stax, the soul record label he helped build to legendary status.
And he had recently finished work on a movie called "Soul Men" in which he played himself, starring Samuel Jackson and Bernie Mac, who died on Saturday.
Steve Shular, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, said authorities received a 911 call after Hayes' wife and young son and his wife's cousin returned home from the grocery store and found him collapsed in a downstairs bedroom.
A sheriff's deputy administered CPR until paramedics arrived.
"The treadmill was running but he was unresponsive lying on the floor," Shular said.