It was about 6:30 a.m. local time as I sat in the kitchen with my husband. I was scanning my email when I saw a news alert from the Los Angeles Times: "Breaking: 'Soul Train' creator Don Cornelius found dead." The story went on to say that Cornelius apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
"Noooooooooooooo!" I screamed.
Hubby quickly happened what had happened, but I was too busy seeking more details to answer him.
My mind was flooded with memories of watching 'Soul Train' during my adolescent years. There was nothing else like it on the air. It was a program that my parents watched, too.
The news really bummed me out, especially since Cornelius apparently experienced a violent death. No, I didn't know him, but when someone is in your home every week via TV, he kind of becomes a part of the family, anyway. I was a shy girl and didn't dance, but I like Don's cool persona.
Upon hearing of Cornelius' death, music icon Quincy Jones spoke with The Associated Press:
I am shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden passing of my friend, colleague and business partner Don Cornelius. Don was a visionary pioneer and a giant in our business. Before MTV there was ‘Soul Train.’ That will be the great legacy of Don Cornelius. His contributions to television, music and our culture as a whole will never be matched.
The Jackson 5, Ike and Tina Turner, James Brown, Marvin Gaye -- anybody who was anybody in
R & B sought a place on the 'Soul Train' stage. In later years, even rap group Public Enemy made an appearance. I think Cornelius was ambivalent about rap initially, but other hip hop artists landed an appearance on the show. Even my favorite Brit, Elton John, graced the stage. I got a respite from sadness when I found a video where Cornelius introduces a young Al Green singing one of my favorite songs.
I've viewed a few dynamic videos today that demonstrate how 'Soul Train' ushered in a new era and made its mark on American pop culture. Anyone who watched 'Soul Train' regularly will remember the host's famous sign off: "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!"
Mr. Cornelius was 75. He will be missed.