On Nov. 6, 1971, the #1 album in the US was the soundtrack to a motion picture about a “black private dick that’s a sex machine to all the chicks…”
… that’s according to the opening lyrics of Isaac Hayes’ funk anthem “Theme from Shaft.” More accurately, Shaft was about a private detective, John Shaft (Richard Roundtree), who is hired to find the missing daughter of a crime boss. The blaxploitation film was a box office hit in the summer of 1971.
Hayes’ Shaft soundtrack was released in July as a double album on the Stax Records label. It became the best selling LP in the label’s history and would win a Grammy for Best Original Score. Famed Memphis studio musicians, the Bar-Kays, provided the rhythm section on the album.
A shortened “radio-friendly” single, “Theme from Shaft,” was released in September of ’71. On Nov. 6, after four weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, the song was at #2 behind Cher’s “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.” It would eventually displace Cher and hit #1 on Nov. 20. Hayes would go on to win an Oscar for Best Original Song.