Don Cornelius, creator of Soul Train was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Sherman Oaks, Calif. apartment early Wednesday morning. He was 75.
Cornelius’s personal cool and musical taste helped Soul Train become an instant hit after its premiere in 1970. A decade before MTV, Soul Train was “the hippest trip in America,” popularizing first the soul sound of the Jackson 5 and James Brown, later emerging hip hop acts like Kurtis Blow and Run-DMC, and always featuring the coolest dance and urban fashion styles in the country.
Soul Train went on to become the longest running American program ever in syndication, eventually producing 1,100 episodes over 35 years. Cornelius, who Al Sharpton described as “a cultural game changer on a global level,” hosted for many of those years, but was recently plagued with health issues and a contentious divorce.