R&B soul crooner Isaac Hayes, who laid the groundwork for disco and whose “Theme From Shaft” won both Academy and Grammy awards, died this afternoon after he collapsed near a treadmill, authorities said. Hayes, 65, was pronounced dead at Baptist East Hospital in Memphis soon after he was found by his wife, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said. The cause of death was not immediately known. Hayes was one of the main creative forces behind southern soul music label Stax Records, where he served as both an in-house songwriter and producer. In the late 1960s, Hayes became a recording artist, and recorded successful soul albums such as Hot Buttered Soul (1969) and Black Moses (1971) as the Stax label’s premier artist. 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.” He will be missed
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