The song “Soul Man” was written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter. and first recorded by Sam & Dave. It was released as a single in 1967, backed with “May I Baby” and on their 1967 album titled Soul Men. On the track were the vocals by Sam & Dave, where they trade of singing a verse and joining each other on the chorus. Instrumentation was provided by Booker T. &^ the M.G.’s and the Mar-Keys Horns. Two versions were recorded. One goes right into the intro, and this is the one usually played on the radio. The other has a more enthusiastic opening, with Sam Moore singing “Comin’ to you…”
“Soul Man” went to #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, #1 on the U.S. R&B chart, #2 in Canada, and #24 in the U.K. The song won the 1968 Grammy Award for Best R&B Group Performance, Vocal or Instrumental.
The story behind the song goes something like this. Isaac Hayes was watching the news in July, 1967, about the 12th Street riot in Detroit. He noticed that buildings that were not destroyed were in many instances those where people had marked those owned and/or operated by African-Americans with the word “soul.” It reminded him of the Biblical story of the Passover. Hayes said that inspiration behind the song was “a story about one’s struggle to rise above his present conditions. It’s almost a tune..kind of like boasting ‘I’m a soul man.’ It’s a pride thing.”
There have been numerous covers of the song, including versions by The Blues Brothers, Sweet Charles Sherrell, Lou Reed and Sam Moore, Los Pericos, Guy Sebastian, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Three Penny Ride, and many more.
Sam & Dave were Sam Moore (tenor) and Dave Prater (baritone). They are multiple gold record award-winning artists, whose songs combined soul, Gospel, R&B, and rock and roll. Many artists say that this “Dynamic Duo,” this “Double Dynamite” influenced them: Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joe, Al Green, Tom Petty, Phil Collins, Michael Jackson, Elvis Costello, and Teddy Pendergrass, to name a few. The duo was active from 1961 to 1981.