Wednesday, February 1, 2012

RIP Don Cornelius

Don Cornelius, the host of the legendary Soul Train, was found dead of an apparent suicide. As a journalist in the Civil Rights Era, Cornelius recognized the lack of a televised venue for soul music. The show he first aired on a low-power station in Chicago became one of the longest-running syndicated hits.

From the show's debut in 1971, the always smooth Cornelius was the master of ceremonies for performances by a who's who of soul legends, including Marvin Gaye, the Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson, Diane Ross, Aretha Franklin and the Isley Brothers. Cornelius coolly presided over each episode's party, interviewing guests in a soft baritone. After an interview with The Supremes' Mary Wilson, he displayed his own flawless moves on the "Soul Train" line. He was host until 1993 when he stepped down. Soul Train continued on until 2006. He was 75.

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