Don Cornelius, creator and host of the iconic show”Soul Train” died on Tuesday from a self-inflicted wound, after being rushed to Cedar Sinai Hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was 75 years old. Cornelius deserves adoration, for his role in making R&B music mainstream and very popular, as well as helping to prime the world for an impending hip-hop revolution.
Cornelius introduced generations of viewers to new music and dance trends emerging from black America. Armed with sharp suits, and a mesmerizing voice Cornelius set out in 1970 to entertain viewers in Chicago with a song and dance show called ”Soul Train”. By 1972, Soul Train was extremely popular in all of the television markets that aired across the country.
This syndicated series delivered the music of Earth Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Kahn, and Teddy Pendergrass into America’s households, infusing them with soul in weekly doses. Soul Train gave viewers, dances and styles that many had never seen or experienced. Soul Train (which went on for 35 seasons) didn’t make history just by influencing the music charts. It served as a pop-culture preview and barometer of fashion, hairstyles and urban lingo.
Soul Train also showcased hip hop artists in its later years. Sugar Hill Gang, Curtis Blow, Run DMC, LL Cool J., and Whodini were all guests on the popular dance show. The Soul Train Dancers also introduced “breaking” a popular hip-hop dance first introduced in the Bronx (New York).
Before, BET and MTV there was “Soul Train”, a show that gave African Americans their own channel, and before black music and faces found their way to MTV videos as well as network dramas and comedies, “Soul Train” became a pioneering outlet for culture whose access to television was strictly limited.
Today we pay homage to a man that had to be one of the “Coolest Cats” around. Don Cornelius brought us the hits, great interviews, and a cool vibe (now known as swag) and opened our hearts to a show that shaped any music lovers appetite for funk and soul as well as a good time.
Written by AJay