Soul music lost one of its giants this week as Don Cornelius, creator and host of Soul Train, was found dead yesterday after an apparent suicide. He was 75 years old.
Cornelius worked as a journalist through the 1960s. Galvanized by the civil rights movement, he saw that soul artists had no place on television to promote their music, no matter how popular they became. In 1971, Cornelius created that outlet with Soul Train, which fast became the Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert for the African-American community. Cornelius’s show highlighted artists such as James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, and Isaac Hayes when they weren’t being featured on other music-oriented television shows. Cornelius hosted the show until 1993 and continued to receive credit as an executive producer until the show halted production in 2006.
Cornelius’s influence on soul music cannot be understated. He will surely be missed.