Charles 'Skip' Pitts standing outside Stax Records in Memphis,TN. (Photo: Jacob Blickenstaff/Wikipedia)

"Theme from Shaft" opens with that irrepressible wah-wah lick. The music for the blaxploitation classic "Shaft" is one of the coolest things, may be even the coolest thing about the movie. Issac Hayes sang the theme and Charles "Skip" Pitts, the guitarist was responsible for the lick. Pitts, who had been battling cancer for several years, died Tuesday. He was 65. He grew up in Washington DC and got guitar lessons from his then-neighbor Bo Diddly. But it was his 40 years in Memphis, working with Hayes, where he found his groove.

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