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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Railroad to Heaven

Don Cornelius, whose suave style and sexy voice were his trademarks as producer and host of tv's Soul Train from 1971-1993, left us as nothing less than #1 with a bullet, fatally shooting himself today, February 1, 2012. He was 76 years old.

According to Wikipedia's bio on the man: "Originally a journalist inspired by the civil rights movement, Cornelius recognized that in the late 1960s there was no television venue in the United States for soul music, and introduced many African-American musicians to a larger audience as a result of their appearances on Soul Train, a program that was both influential among African-Americans and popular with a wider audience. As writer, producer, and host of Soul Train, Cornelius was instrumental in offering wider exposure to black musicians like James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Michael Jackson, as well as creating opportunities for talented dancers that would presage subsequent television dance programs. Cornelius said 'We had a show that kids gravitated to,' and Spike Lee described the program as an 'urban music time capsule.'"

Apparently plagued by health problems and publicly disgraced by a 2008 spousal abuse charge, Don Cornelius took his own life, discovered by police in his Mulholland Drive residence.

So many great Soul Train remembrances from my youth. My God, who was not on that show?! Diana, Patti, Aretha, Donna, Al Green, Sister Sledge, The Pointer Sisters, Bonnie Pointer, Melba Moore, The Jackson 5 and so many more! Can we now anticipate a Don Cornelius/Soul Train tv-special "tribute" show? (Is that even a question?)

As our cool, seemingly pulled together host said each time, signing off Soul Train with his melifluously deep voice: "I'm Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul!"

You, too, Don. And bless your soul, too.

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