Isaac Hayes needed help to complete Sam and Dave’s ‘Soul Man’: ‘I can’t think of an intro’

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At a moment’s notice, Steve Cropper famously reversed the opening of “In the Midnight Hour” to create a new intro for “Knock on Wood,” two of R&B’s best-known sides. But that’s not the only time he came up with an off-the-cuff idea that made all the difference.

In fact, the first few moments of Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man” were the result of a similar moment of improvisational brilliance, as Cropper reminds in a behind-the-scenes look into this signature hit.

Seems Cropper was working elsewhere in the Stax Records building, when Stax legend Isaac Hayes — who co-wrote the track with Dave Porter — tracked him down to ask a favor.

“Isaac Hayes came running in the back, when I was logging tapes, and asked to borrow me for a minute,” Cropper tells Clash Music. He says Hayes told him, “Now, I know Dave and I have wrote a hit today … but I can’t think of an intro. Can you get your guitar and help me come up with an intro for it?”

There was still one piece of the puzzle left to add, before Sam Moore and Dave Prater could score a No. 2 hit with “Soul Man.” The song later earned a Grammy in 1968, and helped hurtle Sam and Dave into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“So I get my guitar, plug it up and sit by the piano as he plays a bit of the song,” Cropper says. “I said, ‘Just play me some changes.’ He played the changes, I started doing the hammer licks and that’s the intro to ‘Soul Man.’ It’s things like that, which happened accidentally on purpose. So, accidents do happen!”

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