Belfast Telegraph

Soul Train host Don Cornelius dead

Don Cornelius, creator of the long-running and pioneering US TV dance show Soul Train, has been found dead at his LA home at the age of 75.

A police officer responding to a report of a shooting found Cornelius at his Mulholland Drive home at around 4 am today (February 1).

He was pronounced dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre, said Los Angeles County Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter.

Music producer Quincy Jones led the tributes. "I am shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden passing of my friend, colleague, and business partner Don Cornelius," he said.

"Don was a visionary pioneer and a giant in our business. Before MTV there was Soul Train, that will be the great legacy of Don Cornelius. His contributions to television, music and our culture as a whole will never be matched."

Soul Train was one of the first US shows to showcase African-Americans prominently, and it introduced television audiences to such legendary artists as Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Barry White.

The show began in Chicago as a local programme in 1970 and aired nationally from 1971 to 2006, bringing the best rhythm and blues, soul and later hip-hop acts to TV and having teenagers dance to them. Cornelius was the first host and executive producer.

"There was not programming that targeted any particular ethnicity," Cornelius said in 2006, then added: "I'm trying to use euphemisms here, trying to avoid saying there was no television for black folks, which they knew was for them."

Cornelius said in 2006 he remained grateful to the musicians who made Soul Train the destination for the best and latest in black music.

"I figured as long as the music stayed hot and important and good, that there would always be a reason for Soul Train."

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