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Theme From Shaft by Isaac Hayes

Album: Shaft SoundtrackReleased: 1971Charted:
  • This was featured in the 1971 movie of the same name starring Richard Roundtree. It was remade in 2000 starring Samuel L. Jackson as Shaft. Hayes made an uncredited appearance in the remake, but that wasn't what he had in mind. According to Q magazine, Hayes agreed to write the Shaft theme after being promised the lead role but the promise wasn't kept - he didn't even get an audition.
  • This won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement and an Oscar for Best Original Score. The Oscar win made Hayes the first African-American to win an Academy Award in a composer category.
  • Hayes was a songwriter for Stax records before he became a successful recording artist. He wrote some hits for Sam & Dave, including "Soul Man" and "Hold On I'm Coming." Hayes explained in an interview with National Public Radio: "The character Shaft was explained to me: a relentless character always on the prowl, always on the move. I had to create something to denote that. Otis Redding's 'Try A Little Tenderness,' I had a hand in arranging that. At the end, Al Jackson was doing some stuff on a hi-hat, and I thought if I sustained that kind of thing on a hi-hat, it would give a relentless, dramatic effect, and it worked."
  • Future actress (she was on the TV shows Bosom Buddies and Family Matters) Telma Hopkins was one of the backup singers. That's her saying "Shut Your Mouth!", which became a bit of a catchphrase for Hopkins, whose character would often say it on her shows. Joyce Wilson was the other backup singer; she and Hopkins performed as Tony Orlando's backup group Dawn.
  • The instruments were played by Memphis funk group The Bar-Kays. For a while, they were Otis Redding's backup band.
  • The distinctive funk guitar and hi-hat cymbals make this a very recognizable song. It is often used in commercials and TV promos, sometimes with the product name put in place of the word "Shaft."
  • Hayes was the voice of "Chef" on the TV show South Park. Despite being a cartoon, Chef usually found an opportunity to sing on each show.
  • There was also a TV version of Shaft, which lasted one season on CBS in 1973. Hayes contributed music to the series.
  • When Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, he opened the ceremonies with this song.
  • Bart and Lisa sing this on The Simpsons episode "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish."
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Comments: 9

Great 70s flash back :)Jules - Negaunee, Mi
Guitarist Charles Pitts played the famous wah-wah solo on this million-seller. Two years ago, he played a distinctive guitar riff on another million-seller (The Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing"). Future Isley guitarist Ernie Isley played bass on that Isley classic.John - Nashville, Tn
I can feel my inner afro try to bust out from under my ball cap with some English Leather laden bell-bottom wearing kung-fu moves every time I hear this tune.Thomas - Savannah, Ga
They kinda made fun of this on Who's Line is it anyway? All the actors were playing a game where they had to have a converstation and could only speak using song titles. So they were all saying things like "ooh! blue suede shoes" or "eww Smells like teen spirit" and this one guy couldn't think of anything to say so he just shouted "THEME FROM SHAFT". Pretty funny.Joe - Palos Heights, Il
This song probably has one of the longest instrumental openings of any song in existence, with the time clocking in at approximately 2 minutes and 43 seconds.Sean - Toronto
Cool theme from a cool movie.Joel - Lawrence, Ks
It has never been mentioned but Clarence Reid better known as "Blow Fly" was asked by Issac Hayes to help provide the words to "Shaft". If you have ever listened to any of "Blow Fly's" early albums you will clearly see that he helped in the writing of Shaft. Please note Clarence Reid also wrote "Clean-up" Woman for Betty Wright and numerous other R&B hits.Clarence Reid is now in his 60's and still performes as "Blow Fly" and has his own website.Julio - Newark, Nj
They say this cat Shaft is a baaaad motha...Sean - Media, Pa
Telma Hopkins, along with Joyce Vincent Wilson, were the actual back-up singers. These two of course went on to become Dawn, with Tony Orlando. Telma Hopkins is the one who can be held saying,: "Shut Your Mouth" on the Shaft single. That is why later, when Telma went into TV shows like "Bosom Buddies" and "Family Matters", her charater on the shows would often say.."Shut your mouth"..it was a reference to her work on Shaft. This has been documenteed in many books, and on Isaac Hayes' website, where he jokes that "Theme From Shaft" was Isaac Hayes and Dawn.:)Michael - Harrisburg, Pa
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