‘Theme from Shaft’ guitarist Charles ‘Skip’ Pitts dies at age 65 (Video)

By Daniel S Levine,

Charles ‘Skip’ Pitts, the guitarist who played on Isaac Hayes’ iconic “Theme From Shaft,” has died at the age of 65.

Pitts died on Tuesday at the Methodist Hospital in Memphis after losing his battle with cancer, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music said, reports E! News.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that Pitts was a master with the wah-wah pedal guitar sound that became a signature part of Hayes’ theme for the classic 1971 film.

He grew up in Washington, D.C. and learned how to play guitar with help from the legendary Bo Diddley. Before gaining fame with Hayes in the 1970s, he played on the Isely Brothers’ 1969 track “It’s Your Thing.”

He started working with Hayes in 1970 and worked with him for the next 40 years, until Hayes’ death in 2008. Pitts’ more recent work came in films, making appearances in Black Snake Moan and Soul Men. He also contributed to the Hustle & Flow soundtrack.

Other artists he worked with throughout his career include Al Green, Cyndi Lauper, Sam & Dave and Wilson Pickett.

Producer and musician Scott Bomar, who worked with Pitts, paid tribute to the great Stax musician in an interview with the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “His guitar style was very unique...He took a little bit of the Bo Diddley rhythm, the Northern soul of Curtis Mayfield and the Memphis sound of Steve Cropper and Reggie Young and somehow came up with his own thing, a style that no one had,” Bomar said.

Pitts is survived by his wife, Beverly.

You can hear his classic playing on "Theme From Shaft" below:

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