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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rest In "Love, Peace & SoouuuuulllllllI" Don Cornelius

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Don Cornelius, creator of the long-running and pioneering TV dance show "Soul Train," shot himself to death Wednesday morning at his home, police said. He was 75.

Officer responding to a report of a shooting found Cornelius at his Mulholland Drive home at around 4 a.m., police said.

He was pronounced dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at 4:56 a.m. at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said Los Angeles County Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter.

"Soul Train" was one of the first U.S. shows to showcase African-Americans prominently, and it introduced television audiences to such legendary artists as Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Barry White.

The show began in Chicago as a local program in 1970 and aired nationally from 1971 to 2006, bringing the best rhythm & blues, soul and later hip-hop acts to TV and having teenagers dance to them. Cornelius was the first host and executive producer.

"There was not programming that targeted any particular ethnicity," Cornelius said in 2006, then added: "I'm trying to use euphemisms here, trying to avoid saying there was no television for black folks, which they knew was for them."

Cornelius, who was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame in 1995 and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, said in 2006 he remained grateful to the musicians who made "Soul Train" the destination for the best and latest in black music.

"I figured as long as the music stayed hot and important and good, that there would always be a reason for 'Soul Train,'" Cornelius said.

He stepped down as "Soul Train" host in 1993.

The Soul Train Awards Cornelius founded will return to the air after a two-year hiatus to recognize those who helped shape R&B music.

Record executive Antonio "L.A." Reid, singers Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, Chaka Khan and Charlie Wilson will be honored on the two-hour music special scheduled to air next Nov. 29. Actors Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard will co-host the awards.


The sources said there was no sign of foul play, but the Los Angeles Police Department was investigating.

In a 2010 interview with The Times, he said he was excited about a movie project he was developing about "Soul Train."

"We've been in discussions with several people about getting a movie off the ground. It wouldn't be the 'Soul Train' dance show, it would be more of a biographical look at the project," he said. "It's going to be about some of the things that really happened on the show."

According to a Times article, Cornelius’ “Soul Train” became the longest-running first-run nationally syndicated show in television history, bringing African American music and style to the world for 35 years.

Cornelius stopped hosting the show in 1993, and “Soul Train” ceased production in 2006.


Today is NOT the best way to begin the celebration of Black History Month. But then again, Life happens while we're all so busy making other plans.

This is truly a sad event and a tragic day within the entertainment industry, not only for those of us who happen to be African-Americans, but for the business of entertainment as a whole! Mr. Cornelius most definitely gave this country, the world and our entire culture a formal introduction and then an indoctrination into all forms of soul.

One only hopes that whatever demons darkened his Spirit have finally released him from their treacherous grip.

And now... may he rest in Love, Peace and Soul.

Live UNTIL you die, y'all!




One Love.

8 comments:

Val said...

Wow. So sad.

thegayte-keeper said...

RIP!

Anna Renee said...

I've been hearing about depression, but I wonder what was going on with Don? I wish he hadn't done this, because he was so worth more than killing himself.

I grew up on Soul Train, and wouldnt dare leave my house on Sats until I had seen it. The coolness factor was off the charts! Don's dark chocolate fineness, that blowout Afro, those threads, that voice, HE was the hippest trip in America!!!

I've been thinking about his business and marketing model tho. He was a beast! They should be teaching SoulTrain 101 in business schools! He found the need and filled it to perfection!

That scramble board, the concept of Soul Train line dancing, the decor of train tracks on the floors and walls, DID I mention every black artist who was anybody having to appear on ST? Shoot, even some white artist smart enough to know what was up made their way to the station!!

RIP Don Cornelius

Moanerplicity said...

I hear ALL that, Anna May! You just said/wrote a mouthful! I'm glad someone brought up his business skills. He truly was an inspired INNOVATOR who saw a need, an absence in the marketplace & in this country, & as you wrote: "filled it to perfection."


Beyond what he brought to the masses & to the culture, there were a few decades when Don Cornelius was DEE COOLEST MOFO on the planet! Bar none! So he presented a modern day example of positive Black Manhood, whether or not that was ever his goal.

So, that place in my heart, that soul's place in my childhood, teen years & young adulthood where Soul Train reigned & proved to be just as necessary as Wonder Bread & Afro Sheen is grieving right now.

RIP, Mr. Cornelius.

One.

Anna Renee said...

The memories! I remember holding my breath when some folks were slow with unscrambling those artists names on that board.

"Dont embarass the race and run out of time tryna unscramble Aretha Franklin on the Scramble Board!!"

I loved how diplomatic they were by just fading back to the dancers whenever a Joe or Joanna Knucklehead couldn't unscramble a name, tho. Hee hee!

I can smell the scent of Afro Sheen floating in the 1970s air...

Soul Train is a national treasure.

Moanerplicity said...

Indeed, Anna May! Indeed I am smellin' ya, my Sista! (smiles) That scramble board thing could be hilarious at times. The Soul Train line has become a tradition at every wedding. anniversary, reunion or house party I've attended in my lifetime. So much of our personal history has to include the presence of Soul Train... simply because it was OUR thang, our party, our weekly obsession/possession/sensation! We didn't have much, but at least, on Saturday mornings, we had us some Sooouuuuuuul Train!

Don's death feels very much like MJ's... like family. You grew up with, matured alongside, came to depend upon the presence of certain iconic people & when they leave us, unexpectedly, you are reminded of the utter uncertainty of this thing we call: Life.

Thank God the good memories abound!


One Love.

Reggie said...

RIP Don....love, peace and soul.

Chet said...

What a sad story being told, the lost of yet another pioneer. Soul Train reminds me of a simpler time when performing artist had to earn their money the hard way...

Mr. Cornelius employed a plaform for both African American performing artist and general audience to be introduced to some good music and some smooth dance moves.

I remember Saturdays and anticipation of Soul Train.