I just saw Don at the KJLH event a few months ago. The legendary creator and longtime host of the groundbreaking music show “˜Soul Train,’ was found dead in his California home this morning. He was 75. Soul Train was the black more hip answer to American Bandstand that was started in Chicago by the former radio DJ. According to the Los Angeles Times, police arrived at Cornelius’ Sherman Oaks home around 4 a.m. and found him dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He worked at WCIU-TV in the 1960s, these were the days when black DJs were stars and had influence unlike today. On August 17, 1970, the first episode of Soul Train premiered on the station, and by the following year, it was being syndicated in other markets and was a HUGE hit becoming the longest syndicated show in the history of syndication. Many people struggled to understand and get to know Cornelius who was always said to be very unapproachable and unfriendly. One can only imagine the obstacles he faced as a black man with a very successful show like Soul Train. He sold all of the rights to the show and the brand a few years ago to MadVision shocking industry insiders who thought he not only sold it for too little but many were surprised that Cornelius didn’t see the outrageous value of the shows and concept. MadVision, which was founded in 2006 by three urban media veterans, is best known for the Showtime stand-up comedy series “White Boyz in the Hood.” One of the founders of MadVision, Kenard Gibbs, is the group publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines. Another founder, Anthony Maddox, worked as a producer at NBC and ran Sean Combs’s Bad Boy Films. Mr. Griffith, the third partner, founded a hip-hop Web portal and worked with Vibe to extend the magazine’s brand.
There is talk of reviving the Soul Train dance show in Atlanta. The Soul Train awards show is has already been revived. Cornelius is survived by his two sons, Anthony and Raymond.