Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Legendary Creator Of 'Soul Train' Don Cornelius Found Dead

The legendary creator of 'Soul Train' was reported to have died of a self inflicted gun shot wound and was pronounced dead at 4:56am this morning. Police don't suspect any foul play. Mr. Cornelius's death is a heavy burden on the hearts of many who knew him personally or even to those who watched him on 'Soul Train'. He was pivotal in many entertainer's success giving them expose via his nationally syndicated TV show. His laid back smooth style brought class to the airwaves as the nation (and soon the word) watched black folks get down and boogie.

His memory will forever live on in the hearts of those who have come into contact with him in any capacity and any format. From old school heads to today's youngsters, we've all been influenced by 'Soul Train' somehow. Whether you watched the show or participated in a "soul train line" dance, you've been touched by the magic of Don Cornelius's magic. My 14 year old son and I watch reruns of Soul Train every morning on the Bounce network, and I tell him, "see this is how we used to dance before all this nasty stuff [they call dancing] came around."

His overcoming trials and tribulations should be a testament to us all that no matter the obstacles in your way, you can do anything you set your mind to. Dream big and big things will happen in your life is the lesson, and what greater proof of this is there then creating a black oriented show for television at a time when that just wasn't happening?

["Soul Train" debuted in 1970 with low expectations and overhead. Color cameras weren’t in the budget and the dancefloor was the size of a typical living room. But the show struck a chord with an audience that had been largely ignored by other teen-oriented dance shows, most famously Dick Clark's "American Bandstand." For young, African-American kids, "Soul Train" was must-see after-school viewing because it presented mostly R&B artists that other shows neglected. And, perhaps most importantly, it showcased the hippest dance moves.

Besides calling in favors from stars such as Curtis Mayfield, the O’Jays, B.B. King and Jerry Butler that he had befriended over the years, Cornelius brought in young dancers he met at parties or on the street to cut loose in front of the cameras. They were the unpaid star attractions who popularized enduring dance moves such as the “robot” and “pop and lock.” One of the show’s most avid viewers, the young Michael Jackson, was clearly paying attention when one of the show’s dancers debuted the “moonwalk” in the ‘70s. The high-stepping “Soul Train” alumni include actress Rosie Perez, singer Jody Watley and rapper MC Hammer.

The show moved to Los Angeles in its second year and entered into national syndication, turning Cornelius from local celebrity into a music-industry tastemaker. Stars such as Sly and the Family Stone, Al Green, James Brown and Aretha Franklin appeared. Indicative of the show’s burgeoning reach (and bigger budget), Barry White showed up in 1975 wearing a black velvet tuxedo and conducting a 40-piece orchestra. White performers wanted in, too, and Elton John and David Bowie were among the guests.

Cornelius’ show mirrored African-American culture and influenced it, not just with music but with its sense of style and language. Cornelius’ invitation to visit and “style a while,” and depart with “peace, love and soul” fit with his unflappable demeanor. Behind the double-breasted suits, professorial glasses and smooth turns of phrase was a keen sense of business and community. In an industry dominated by whites, he was a pioneering African-American empire builder and partnered with Johnson Products, another black-owned Chicago institution, as a sponsor.

Though he wasn’t particularly a fan of disco or hip-hop, Cornelius made sure his show adapted to them.
] source: http://www.chicagotribune

Mr. Cornelius will be greatly missed. R.I.P. Check out one of the most favorites parts of Soul Train... The Soul Train Line!

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