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Charles “Skip” Pitts, Shaft Guitarist and Soul Mainstay, Dead at 65

Charles "Skip" Pitts, Shaft Guitarist and Soul Mainstay, Dead at 65


Charles “Skip” Pitts, the revered soul guitarist whose  iconic guitar riff for the “Theme from Shaft” helped make both the song  and its eponymous movie pop-culture touchstones, has died.

He was 65.

According to a rep for the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Pitts passed  away in Memphis on Tuesday after a battle with cancer.

Pitts’ storied career was marked by his fertile, 40-year collaboration with Isaac  Hayes, whose band he joined in 1970.

Their work on the Shaft soundtrack signaled a definitive and  watershed moment in the blaxploitation film movement, pushing it to the  forefront of the pop consciousness and giving black filmmakers a foothold—and a  sound.

The Washington, D.C.–born musician began playing well before his teens and  was mentored by Bo Diddley, who was a neighbor.

Aside from his collaboration with Hayes, Pitts was also a session musician  for Stax Records and played alongside music greats including Al  Green, Sam & Dave and Wilson  Pickett.

His work with the Isley Brothers also produced another  iconic song, “It’s Your Thing.”

Pitts continued to be a prolific musician well into his final years. He and  his band, The Bo-Keys, released an album last year, and he also  performed on the soundtracks to Hustle & Flow, Black Snake  Moan and Soul Men.





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