Wednesday, February 1, 2012

R.I.P. Don Cornelius: Soul Train's Creator Is Dead

The first video in this post shows a scene from a 1974 Soul Train episode in which Soul Train creator Don Cornelius interviews the Godfather of Soul James Brown, and the clip includes a young Al Sharpton presenting Brown with an award. I thought this clip would be appropriate upon hearing that Don Cornelius has passed away at age of 75. Soul Train did so much more for the black community than feature music. (However, at the end I have a clip of Cornelius dancing in the Soul Train Line) The sadder news in this is the revelation that Cornelius committed suicide:
Officers 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.
I can't say more right now except add that Soul Train was an important part of my youth during the 70s. It arrived during the Black is Beautiful era and brought into my family's den and homes around the world the performances of Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan & Rufus, Curtis Mayfield, the O'Jays, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Jackson 5, Janet Jackson, even Elton John, and so many more plus the famous Soul Train Dance Line. Some people tuned in just to see that. For instance, in an interview on 60 Minutes long ago, when asked who he liked to watch dance, the legendary Fred Astaire said he watched Soul Train to see "the kids" and their innovative dance moves.

I have to digest the news that Don Cornelius killed himself even though I'm aware that his life had signs that he was a troubled man. May his soul rest in peace.

In the video below, Cornelius dances in the Soul Train Line with Mary Wilson of the Supremes.

Updated to include this link to Don Charnus's article, "Why Don Cornelius Matters."

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