I'm incredibly sad to hear of Don Cornelius' death by gunshot wound to the head, apparently self-inflicted today, He helped put soul music on the map and introduced and influenced such artists as The Jackson 5, MJ, James Brown, Aretha Franklin and countless others. He also helped launch the careers of dancers who never would have had the opportunity. Bringing soul music and black artists into the living rooms of white America, Cornelius helped to bridge the race gap through music.
An interesting note, Michael Jackson said that he watched James Brown perform on Soul Train and that influenced his dancing. If you're a fan of both, like myself, you can easily see how that's true. Each man conducted the band with his body because he so fully felt his music. So, I guess it's easy to say that without Soul Train there may not have been a Michael Jackson or a moonwalk.
"Soul Train" is the longest-running nationally syndicated show in history, on air from 1971 through 2006. Cornelius was the host before stepping away in 1993. He stayed on as the program's executive producer and expanded "Soul Train" into an annual awards show.
Fame will always bring problems, have we not learned that yet? Cornelius had his fair share of legal problems with multiple accusations of domestic violence against his ex wife and within the last few years. I can only speculate that these legal difficulties and the rocky break-up of his marriage are the reasons behind this alleged suicide, though I'm interested in learning more. When and if I learn it's more than that, I will update this review. Side note: the +5 is only for his influence on American music and TV, obviously not for the alleged abuse against his wife (that would be a -infinity!) or him as a person, I never met him so I can't properly judge him.
I remember growing up to Soul Music and I lived for watching the guest stars sing their hearts out while I danced my butt off in my living room. I will never forget Cornelius' voice, signing off with..."as always, Peace, Love and Soul." May you enjoy the Soul Train ride in the sky, Don, and peace, love and soul to you, always.
When people discuss his legacy there are important aspects they left out. His show created a vehicle for product advertising for many things geared towards African Americans, especially in haircare. Many of these businesses had no other television outlet to advertise.