'Soul Train' host Don Cornelius dies in apparent suicideBy Steve Jones, USA TODAY Updated 13m ago
Don Cornelius conducted us on the "hippest trip in America" for more than two decades on Soul Train, and in the process shone a light on R&B stars that mostly performed in the shadows of the mainstream. At the same time, he invited the nation to a multicultural, cross-generational dance party that was broadcast into living rooms every Saturday morning.
'Soul Train' host Don Cornelius introduced television audiences to legendary artists including Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Barry White.
With his smooth, resonant baritone, Cornelius introduced hundreds of stars to the TV audience, including Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, James Brown, Jerry Butler, Marvin Gaye, The O'Jays and Barry White, while overseeing a colorful menagerie of partiers who influenced dance and fashion. It opened a window to African-American culture that had received scant media exposure.
"Back then, there was no targeted television and I just had the sense that television shouldn't be that way," Cornelius told USA TODAY in a rare interview in 2010, when the show's 40th anniversary was celebrated with a VH1 documentary. "The primary mission of the show was to provide TV exposure for people who would not get it otherwise. People who didn't get invited to The Mike Douglas Show, or (Johnny) Carson. There was no ethnic television, just general-market television, which meant mostly white people."
The pioneering media mogul, 75, was found dead in his Sherman Oaks, Calif., home Wednesday morning. He was pronounced dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at 4:56 a.m. at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to the Los Angeles County coroner's office.