“… and you can bet your last money, it’s all gonna be a stone gas, honey!”
Donald Cortez Cornelius was born September 27,1936 in Chicago, IL. When he finished high school, he served as a Marine in Korea. In 1966, he landed a job as an announcer, news reporter and disc jockey on Chicago radio station WVON. On August 17, 1970 the world changed forever with the birth of Soul Train. Cornelius was a journalist with a powerful vision who was intrigued by the Civil Rights Movement. He recognized that 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, which was both fundamental for African-Americans and popular with a wider audience.
Soul Train was a show that brought all genders and races together for a “funky ol’ good time.” The show changed television forever. Many artists note Soul Train as being one of their foundations for success and Spike Lee has called it the “Urban Music Time Capsule.”
Not only did Cornelius change television he changed the lives of everyone who has ever watched Soul Train. He became a part of a Saturday afternoon ritual that was irreplaceable and a part of a weekly routine that many black families adopted. Soul Train was an iconic legacy that lasted 35 years. Today, Soul Train still holds the record for the longest running syndicated program. Cornelius ended every show with these words:
I’m Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul!
Don Cornelius passed away February 1, 2012. Los Angeles County Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter says Cornelius’ cause of death was from a self-inflicted gunshot would . He was 75. R.I.P to the man with soul.
Today Tastemaker Magazine celebrates the life and legacy of Mr. Don Cornelius. Share your Soul Train memories with us below!