TMZ reports that Don Cornelius, the mahogany-voiced creator of the beloved TV institution Soul Train, was found dead early this morning at his home in Sherman Oaks, California. The cause of death appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Cornelius was 75.
Born in Chicago, Cornelius started out as a journalist before launching Soul Train in 1971. He produced, wrote, and hosted the show for 22 years, finally letting a succession of other hosts take over for him in 1993. The show mixed up live performances with the moves of the Soul Train Dancers, who came to be nearly as famous as many of the musical guests. The show offered an extremely valuable chance at TV time for many of the greats of soul music over the years, and black music’s biggest stars regularly stopped by to perform.
Below, watch footage of Cornelius making a rare appearance on the Soul Train Line alongside the Supremes’ Mary Wilson.