At Monday's 17th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony — airing tonight at 9 pm/ET on VH1 — R&B legend Isaac Hayes finally gained admittance into the music biz's elite club. While the evening will no doubt rank as one of the soul man's finest hours, the 59-year-old performer admits that his career pinnacle thus far remains the 1972 Academy Awards — where he became the first African-American to win best original song for the "Theme from Shaft."

"When I was selected, everyone thought I would take a fine chick with me," he recalls. "But I took my grandmother as my date. This was the most important moment of my life, and I wanted her to be there.

"When we were growing up, we had it rough," adds Hayes, who is courting a new generation of fans as the voice of Chef on South Park. "So I prayed to God to let her live long enough [so that I could] thank her in the way that I wanted to — in front of millions of people, dedicating the Oscar to her."