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AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Talk with Rock 'N' Roll Legend Isaac Hayes

Aired March 19, 2002 - 08:33   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We go now to some freshly minted legends of rock 'n' roll. Last night, the class of 2002 was inducted into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame. The honorees included a group of rock rebels, the pioneers of punk and a soul man.

CNN's Jason Carroll has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The theme from "Shaft," mixed in with the little talking heads, sounds like a deejay's play list for a great party. And party they did as the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame inducted its newest members.

ISAAC HAYES, HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE: It's kind of mind blowing. I try not think about it, but I'm indeed honored. And it's exciting. You know, at first, I was in shock.

CARROLL: Isaac Hayes made this year's eclectic list. One might say his version of soul music was to the '70s what inductee Brenda Lee's songs were for pop music in the '50s and '60s.

Where else can an audience see early rockers like Lee performing one minute and punk lockers like The Ramones taking the stage the next.

DEE DEE RAMONE, HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE: I'd like to congratulate myself, and thank myself, and give myself a big pat on the back.

CARROLL: This year, famed record producer Jim Stewart got the nod, along with guitarist Chet Atkins, singer/song writer Gene Pitney and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, a band that keeps turning out hits, even today.

TOM PETTY, HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE: I am truly humbled to be added to this list of people in this hall that have meant so much to my life.

CARROLL (on camera): the induction ceremony is all about the music and the history, but it's also interesting to see the presenters who are chosen to introduce the inductees. It's sort of a meeting of the old school and the new school. In fact, some of the presenters could end up being inductees themselves someday. (voice-over): Jacob Dylan did the honors for Tom Petty, Soul songtress Alicia Keys for Isaac Hayes, and Jewel for Brenda Lee, but in the end, it's not about names, it's about music, and the closing jam session fusion of rock, punk and soul's greatest was truly a sight and a sound for rockers of all ages.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: One of this year's hall of fame inductees, legendary singer and song writer Isaac Hayes joins us this morning. We're also joined by longtime guitarist Skip.

I'm sorry, Skip. What's your last name?

CHARLES SKIP PITTS, GUITARIST: Pitts -- P-I-T-T-S.

COOPER: How long have you guys worked together?

PITTS: 1970.

HAYES: Over 30 years actually.

COOPER: How was last night? It must have been incredible.

HAYES: Last night was off the hook, man, it was off the hook. It was. I mean, the performances were great. We had a lot of fun. We jammed. I mean, you know, Paul Schaffer, he's great. He's a musician's musician.

COOPER: David Letterman's...

HAYES: Yes, yes, man, we had a lot of fun jamming.

COOPER: You've been around for a long time. You started playing clubs in Memphis. It's been a long, long road.

HAYES: Oh, yes.

COOPER: How have you lasted so long?

HAYES: Just adjusting and constantly, what you call it, evolving and expanding, and trying to stay as young as I can.

COOPER: You're doing very well, especially with those red shoes.

HAYES: That's right. To wake them up in the morning.

(LAUGHTER)

COOPER: Probably a lot of people know you obviously from the sound track to the movie "Shaft." I think it came out in 1971. We'll play a little bit of it just now.

So -- but a whole new generation knows you as "Chef" in "South Park."

HAYES: Hello, children! They know me from that, you're right.

COOPER: Did you ever think you'd be in a cartoon?

HAYES: I had no idea. I mean, I almost passed on it. You know, Matt and Trey came, and they chose me, and I started to walk out. I said, what? I thought it was a Disney thing. No! And I found out, I never heard of this thing. What about this? Then I went over to the studio, my agent talked me into meeting these guys. I said, well, they'll last about six months, I mean, six weeks, and I'll pick up a little change and I'm out of here. We kept putting them in the can. As time progressed, and toward the opening I started having trepidations -- Oh my god, what have I done? I've ruined my career. But then when it aired, the ratings went through the roof, and every subsequent one got higher.

So I said, OK, yes, I'm the chef on "South Park." And my fan base has increased from six to 96 because of "South Park."

COOPER: It's amazing, you're famous in different generations for different things.

HAYES: Oh, yes.

COOPER: Artists would kill for that kind of legacy and that kind of widespread popularity.

HAYES: Well, It's great. But I want to do something right now, if I may. This is my guitar player, Skip, the original wa-wa man, the best guitarist on this side of the Sea of Tranquility. In thanking all the people last night, I forgot to mention his name.

COOPER: Oh, no.

HAYES: So, Skip, I apologize, man, you know I love you.

PITTS: Brother, I love you, too. Thank you, man.

HAYES: This guy, he's the original wa-wa guy on "Shaft." Come on. I mean, we've been through a lot.

COOPER: You should have been inducted as well.

PITTS: No, not quite, but as long as he got it, I'm cool.

COOPER: You were introduced last night by Alicia Keys. That's got to be pretty special.

HAYES: It's special, because I worked on her album with her. And she has a great respect for the classic soul tunes, I mean, and she has a feel for it, too. So she knew what she was talking about last night when she inducted me.

COOPER: What do you listen to today? What's the music that really gets you? What's on your CD player right now? HAYES: Well, you know, I listen to some of the guys out there. I love Joe. I love Maxwell. And Luther Vandross, too. And Mary J.

COOPER: Do you like what you hear in music today? Do you think music has gone in the right direction?

HAYES: It's hard to say. I think they could use a little more substance, like we had in the day. You know, and they're standing on our shoulders. Some of them don't realize, because they sample me so much. In fact, Faith Evans got a tune out right now one of my samples. Erykah Badu just had one, "Bag Lady," my sample. You name them, they all have sampled me. And the kids who are buying this music, they don't know; they think it has originated with the artists that are doing it right now but it goes back years and years.

COOPER: You were an official, an honorary of the royal family of Ghana. How did that come about?

HAYES: I went over there with Dionne Warwick back in '92, and we went through all of the dungeons and everything and it just changed my life. And I went back on speaking engagements, and encouraged African-Americans to go to Africa, and interact socially, culturally and/or economically. And this princess heard me speak, and so she called her father. She said, let's honor this man. So they invited me over and we went through the rituals and everything, and I was a development king. But we've progressed. I built a school over there in Ghana, and it's a beautiful thing. And now I'm real. It's a real thing now.

My name is Nena Khantu O'Kansi I (ph).

COOPER: Well, your majesty, thank you very much for being with us, Isaac Hayes, it's been an honor to meet you.

Skip, thanks for coming.

PITTS: My pleasure.

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