"People say, 'Bernie hard, he tell it like it is, he curse.' They like for me to tell it. If I came out doing Bill Cosby or Billy Crystal, they'd have a fit. One thing I do understand is, this is an act. I'm acting. When I get offstage, I'm done. That man is dead. When you're offstage, that's the footprint. That's the man God's gonna judge."
Isaac Lee Hayes Jr. was born Aug. 20, 1942, in a tin shack in the small town of Covington, Tenn., north of Memphis. His mother died when he was a year old, his father left home, and he and his sister were raised by their maternal grandparents, who were sharecroppers.Desperately poor, the family moved to Memphis when Mr. Hayes was 6. By the time he was 8, he was picking cotton in the fields, and when his grandfather got sick, he was, for the most part, on his own. He spent one childhood summer sleeping in wrecked cars in a junkyard.