RIP Don Cornelius

Earlier today I read that Soul Train creator Don Cornelius committed suicide.  He was found in his home in Southern California early this morning.  He was 75 years old.

I remember back in the day watching this show. It was fun to watch the dancers and the different music artist every Saturday.  Soul Train brought some great music into the homes of millions of Americans.  I remember a while ago watching a documentary titled Soul Train:  The Hippest Trip in America.  VH1 is showing the documentary on February 6 at 9:30pm.  I know Centric, the cable channel use to show episodes of Soul Train.  I wonder if they will start up again.  Or maybe have a Soul Train marathon this weekend.

‘Soul Train’ creator Don Cornelius found dead

By Greg Kot

Tribune critic

Don Cornelius became the baritone-voiced bellwether of Chicago cool when he took “Soul Train” from the South Side to a national audience in the 1970s.

Cornelius, 75, was found dead Wednesday at his Mulholland Drive home in Encino, Calif. He apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police say. There was no sign of foul play, but the Los Angeles Police Department was investigating.

Born in Chicago in 1936, Cornelius grew up in the Bronzeville neighborhood and worked numerous jobs: he sold insurance, worked as a TV newsman and deejayed at WVON, which serenaded the South and West Sides with soul music. While employed at WCIU-TV in the ’60s, he started hosting soul dance parties around the city and eventually approached station management about a show based on the same idea. They accepted.

“I wasn’t surprised because I was invited to come over there by one of my mentors, Roy Wood, who was the news director at WVON-AM radio,” Cornelius told the Tribune last year. “He was a good man. He had persuaded them to do a black-oriented news show called ‘A Black’s View of the News.’ I knew the format at Channel 26 had a lot to do with ethnic-targeted programming, so I said to the owner one day, ‘Why don’t you let me try this?'”

“Soul Train” debuted in 1970 with low expectations and overhead. Color cameras weren’t in the budget and the dancefloor was the size of a typical living room. But the show struck a chord with an audience that had been largely ignored by other teen-oriented dance shows, most famously Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand.” For young, African-American kids, “Soul Train” was must-see after-school viewing because it presented mostly R&B artists that other shows neglected. And, perhaps most importantly, it showcased the hippest dance moves.

You can read the entire article here at the Chicago Tribune.

Mr. Cornelius use to end his show with the following saying:

“And you can bet your last money, it’s all gonna be a stone gas, honey! I’m Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul!”

Check out the video to the Soul Train theme song The Sound of Philadelphia.  The song was written by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff.

RIP Mr. Cornelius.

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