Friday, February 3, 2012
Don Cornelius (1936-2012)
"Peace, love and soul" were the iconic words of Don Cornelius as he ended every episode of Soul Train. Even as Soul Train moved away from the funk and soul of the 60's and 70's and into the hip hop and r&b sounds of the 80's and 90's (and much later, the neo-soul movement of the late 90's and early 00's), the love and soul Cornelius put into his once localized project was felt throughout the series. It is with sadness that I write of the passing of a pioneer.
Yesterday morning, police responded to a call of a shooting in which the officers found Cornelius dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in his residence. Cornelius, 75, created a landmark show that offered a more soulful, funky alternative to the pop leanings of American Bandstand. It was a show that invited such diverse guests as James Brown, Mandrill, Fishbone and Beastie Boys to perform weekly while the audience danced to the music. Most importantly, the show was most notable for "The Soul Train Line," in which dancers would line up on each side taking turns dancing down the line. To this day, you can still find the occasional wedding breaking out the line like the early days of the program never faded away. Cornelius, himself, was most notable for his effective, baritone voice which introduced and closed each program until his retirement in 1993 as well as interviewing the guests. Cornelius and his legacy will be missed but never forgotten. Below are a few clips from his era of Soul Train honoring his contributions to music.