Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Donald Cortez "Don" Cornelius (September 27, 1936 – February 1, 2012) was an American television show host and producer who is best known as the creator of the nationally syndicated dance/music franchise Soul Train, which he hosted from 1971-1993. Cornelius sold the show to MadVision Entertainment in 2008.Don Cornelius, former host of the television program "Soul Train," still produces the syndicated musical dance show that he created. VH1 celebrates the rise of the show in 'The Hippest Trip'
Don Cornelius was born in Chicago in 1936 and was one of the early employees of WVON.[1][2]
Originally a journalist inspired by the civil rights movement, Cornelius recognized that in the late 1960s there was no television venue in the United States for soul music, and introduced many African-American musicians to a larger audience as a result of their appearances on Soul Train, a program that was both influential among African-Americans and popular with a wider audience.[3] As writer, producer, and host of Soul Train, Cornelius was instrumental in offering wider exposure to black musicians like James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Michael Jackson, as well as creating opportunities for talented dancers that would presage subsequent television dance programs.[4] Cornelius said "We had a show that kids gravitated to," and Spike Lee described the program as an "urban music time capsule."[4]
Besides his smooth and deep voice, Cornelius is best known for the catchphrase that he used to close the show: "... and you can bet your last money, it's all gonna be a stone gas, honey! I'm Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul!" After Cornelius's departure, it was shortened to "...and as always, we wish you love, peace and soul!" and was used through the most recent new episodes in 2006. Another introductory phrase he often used was: "We got another sound comin' out of Philly that's a sure 'nough dilly".
The 2008 Soul Train Music Awards ceremony was not held due to the WGA strike and the end of Tribune Entertainment complicating the process of finding a new distributor to air the ceremony and line up the stations to air it. The awards show was moved in 2009 to Viacom's Centric cable channel (formerly BET J), which now airs Soul Train in reruns.
Cornelius most recently appeared at the 2009 BET Awards to present The O'Jays with the 2009 BET Lifetime Achievement Award.

[edit] Death

It is believed that Don Cornelius committed suicide on February 1, 2012. Law enforcement believes that this is the case because of a "self-inflicted" gunshot wound to the head but a complete investigation is still pending.[5]

[edit] In popular culture

In the Corneil and Bernie episode "Don Cornelius," Corneil poses as a "godfather crime-boss guy" named Don Cornelius, but the character is completely unrelated. Cornelius made an appearance in the film Jane Austen's Mafia! as himself.
  • Cornelius played record producer Moe Fuzz in 1988's Tapeheads.
  • A 1994 Fresh Prince of Bel Air episode included a plot line in which Will is a big fan of Cornelius and owns a Don Cornelius doll, which he claims is an action figure; Cornelius also made a cameo appearance on the show on a fictional 25th Anniversary show of "Soul Train".
  • Cornelius is mentioned by rapper Ice Cube in Scarface's song "Hand of the Dead Body". He is also mentioned by RZA's song "Airwaves", the Beastie Boys song "Flute Loop" and De La Soul's song "Pass The Plugs".
  • Cornelius was also mentioned in the season 2 episode of Saturday Night Live aired on March 19, 1977, as part of the Saturday Night Live Samurai sketch "Samurai Hit Man". In the sketch, Don Marsala (Dan Aykroyd) hires The Samurai to kill both Don Cornelius and Don Kirshner.
  • Keenan Ivory Wayans spoofs Cornelius in an episode of In Living Color with a senior-citizen version of "Soul Train" called "Old TrainSoul Train: The Hippest Trip in America
    Saturday at 9:30 on VH1

    Admit it: No matter what you remember about "Soul Train" - the dancing, the clothes, the music - just those two words put a smile on your face.
    So will this VH1 documentary on one of the most successful music shows in the history of anywhere.
    "The Hippest Trip" is an express version of that history, 90 fast-moving minutes narrated by Terrence Howard with guest comments by artists from Aretha Franklin to Snoop Dogg.
    Along the way, it notes that "Soul Train" also had ties to more serious matters, since its charismatic creator and host, Don Cornelius, came out of the civil rights movement.
    He was a journalist more than a music man, but he also had a promotional sense and in the late 1960s, he saw a hole in the music media market.
    Soul music was popular everywhere, and yet unlike rock 'n' roll and pop stars, soul artists had no place on television to promote that music.
    So Cornelius started one, on a low-power station in Chicago. In a sense, he did with TV what Berry Gordy did with the record business a decade earlier, and like Gordy, Cornelius moved to Los Angeles after his project became a major hit.
    When he got there, though, he recalls in this special, he found he no longer had a ready local pool of innovative dancers. That was important because "Soul Train" from the start was about motion and style as well as music.
    Like "American Bandstand," it reflected and eventually helped to define its audience.
    Today, then, those old shows play like a fashion time capsule. Lapels as wide as Queens. Bell-bottoms that look like beach umbrellas. The big Afros. And you can almost feel the texture of the polyester.
    It didn't hurt that for the first decade "Soul Train" was on the air, soul and R&B was arguably the best pop music being made in much of America. It wasn't the only good music, but from Stevie Wonder to the Chi-Lites, it was an anchor of its era, and "Soul Train" presented pretty much all of it.
    By the end of the 1970s, as rap was emerging, "Soul Train" both countered and nurtured it.
    Kurtis Blow talks about how the "Soul Train" dancers inspired break dancers in the early hip-hop days, while at the same time Cornelius was calculating just how much rap to allow on the show and where to hold the line at more traditional sounds.
    At the time, that seemed like a critical choice. In retrospect, it was all good.
    So was the hippest train in America

    Read more:

No comments: