"Soul Man" is a 1967 song written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, first successful as a #2 hit single by Atlantic Records soul duo Sam & Dave.Co-author Isaac Hayes found the inspiration for "Soul Man" in the turmoil of the African-American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. In July 1967, the 12th Street Riot in Detroit, Michigan occurred. Watching a television newscast of the aftermath of the riots, Hayes noted that black Detroit residents had marked the buildings that had not been destroyed during the riots - most African-American owned and operated institutions - with the word "soul". Relating this occurrence to the biblical story of the Passover, Hayes and songwriting partner David Porter came up with the idea, in Hayes' words, of "a story about one's struggle to rise above his present conditions. It's almost a tune [where it's] kind of like boasting 'I'm a soul man'. It's a pride thing."Issued on the Atlantic-distributed Stax label for which Hayes and Porter worked, Sam and Dave's "Soul Man" was the most successful Stax single to date upon its release. The single peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart, and at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States during the autumn of 1967. "Soul Man" was awarded the 1968 Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Group Performance, Vocal or Instrumental.The exclamation "Play it, Steve" heard in the song refers to guitarist Steve Cropper of Booker T. & the M.G.'s, the house band who provided the instrumentation for this and many other Sam and Dave singles; Cropper provides guitar for both the original Sam and Dave recording, as well as the live and studio covers by the Blues Brothers.
Sam & Dave were an American soul and rhythm and blues (R&B) duo who performed together from 1961 through to 1981. The tenor (higher) voice was Samuel David Moore (born Samuel David Hicks on October 12, 1935), and the baritone/tenor (lower) voice was Dave Prater (May 9, 1937 – April 9, 1988).Sam & Dave are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and are Grammy Award and multiple gold record award winning artists. According to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Sam & Dave were the most successful soul duo, and brought the sounds of the black gospel church to pop music with their call-and-response records. Recorded primarily at Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee, from 1965 through 1968, these included "Soul Man", "Hold On, I'm Comin", "I Thank You", "When Something is Wrong with My Baby", "Wrap It Up", and many other Southern Soul classics. Other than Aretha Franklin, no soul act during Sam & Dave's Stax years (1965–1968) had more consistent R&B chart success, including 10 consecutive top 20 singles and 3 consecutive top 10 LPs. Their crossover charts appeal (13 straight appearances and 2 top 10 singles) helped to pave the way for the acceptance of soul music by white pop audiences, and their song "Soul Man" was one of the first songs by a black group to top the pop charts using the word "soul", helping define the genre. "Soul Man" was a number one Pop Hit (Cashbox: November 11, 1967) and has been recognized as one of the most influential songs of the past 50 years by the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Rolling Stone magazine, and RIAA Songs of the Century. "Soul Man" was featured as the soundtrack and title for a 1986 film and also a 1997–1998 television series, and Soul Men was a 2008 feature film.Nicknamed "Double Dynamite", "The Sultans of Sweat", and "The Dynamic Duo" for their gritty, gospel-infused performances, Sam & Dave were one of the greatest live acts of the 1960s. They were an influence on many future musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, Al Green, Tom Petty, Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, Elvis Costello, The Jam, Teddy Pendergrass, Billy Joel and Steve Winwood. The Blues Brothers, who helped create a resurgence of popularity for soul, R&B, and blues in the 1980s, were influenced by Sam & Dave - their biggest hit was a cover of "Soul Man", and their act and stage show had many similarities to the duo.