This keyboardist was already well established as a session player by the early '40s, backing up singers and vocal groups in styles that would eventually become established with almighty genre terms such as R&B, funk, and soul. Performer and songwriter Otis Blackwell is considered an innovator in all of these styles as well as straight and simple rock & roll; Ernie Hayes, sometimes credited more formally as Ernest Hayes, played piano and organ on 1942 Blackwell sides as part of the regular albeit stupendous rhythm section that also includes guitarist Mickey Baker, bassist Milt Hinton, and drummer Specs Powell.
To account in detail about every session Hayes participated in over nearly the next four decades would most likely force a library shelf to sag. There had been, according to trusty discographical sources, nearly 200 recording sessions involving Ernie Hayes by the late '80s. He shows up on records by James Brown, Nina Simone, Mickey & Sylvia, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Jackie Wilson, Aretha Franklin, Ian & Sylvia, and Sam Cooke. He was also known to have a hand in arrangements, sometimes formally and sometimes informally in well-worn rhythm section relationships that relied more on spontaneous setups. As a composer, Hayes had a Latin touch and seemed to enjoy Spanish titles, including the dark, scenty "Flores de Noche" and the moving "Vaya," both of which were recorded by bandleader Ray Barretto.
- By Eugene Chadbourne
All Music Group