Don Cornelius, the man who created “Soul Train,” was found dead in his Los Angeles home today. The L.A. County Coroner’s Department confirmed that Cornelius’ cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was 75.
Famous fans took to Twitter this morning to pay tribute to Cornelius. “RIP Don Cornelius #legend,” actress Holly Robinson Peete tweeted. Wyclef Jean wrote, “JUST WOKE UP TO SOME SAD NEWS , R.I.P. Don Cornelius founder of SOUL TRAIN.” “RIP the legend Don Cornelius,” tweeted hip-hop artist Talib Kweli. “Soul Train was a huge part of my saturday mornings growing up.”
Cornelius created “Soul Train” and hosted the show in national syndication from 1971 to 1993. It was the first real venue on American TV for soul music, and as the show’s writer, producer, and emcee, Cornelius played a vital role in bringing stars like James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Michael Jackson to a wider audience. He was known for the catchphrase with which he closed each episode: “I’m Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul!”
“Soul Train,” which ceased airing in 2006, also spun off the Soul Train Music Awards and the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards. Its most famous theme song, “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia),” by MFSB became a massive pop hit in 1974.