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Pitts is responsible for the unforgettable wah-wah guitar sound on Hayes' "Theme from Shaft," the '70s Blaxploitation film that remains a memorable moment in American popular culture - mostly due to the enduring popularity of the song. Tim Sampson, communication director with the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis, says Pitts died Tuesday after a long struggle with cancer.

Schooled by neighbor Bo Diddley while growing up in Washington, D.C., Pitts had a long, historic run in Memphis. He played with Hayes for nearly four decades, worked as a session musician for Stax Records and logged time with many significant soul acts.