'Soul Train' host Don Cornelius dead in apparent suicide
From the AP:
Don Cornelius, the longtime host of Soul Train, died early Wednesday of an apparent suicide. He was 75.
Police responding to a report of a shooting found Cornelius at his Mulholland Drive home around 4 a.m. He was pronounced dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound about an hour later at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to the coroner's office. Police said authorities have ruled out foul play. Detectives have not found a suicide note and are talking to relatives about his mental state.
His death prompted many to speak of the positive influence he and his show had on pop culture, music and the black community.
"God bless him for the solid good and wholesome foundation he provided for young adults worldwide and the unity and brotherhood he singlehandedly brought about with his most memorable creation of Soul Train," said Aretha Franklin, an early performer on the show.
"Soul Train became the outlet for African-Americans," the Rev. Jesse Jackson told KNX-Los Angeles, calling Cornelius "a transformer and adding that he spoke to the host a few days ago and there were no signs Cornelius was upset.
Others also expressed their grief.
"I am shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden passing of my friend, colleague, and business partner Don Cornelius," Quincy Jones said. "Don was a visionary pioneer and a giant in our business. Before MTV there was Soul Train, that will be the great legacy of Don Cornelius. His contributions to television, music and our culture as a whole will never be matched. My heart goes out to Don's family and loved ones."
Soul Train began in 1970 in Chicago on WCIU-TV as a local program and aired nationally from 1971 to 2006. Cornelius stepped down as host in 1993.
In his later years, Cornelius had a troubled marriage. In 2009, he was sentenced to three years' probation after pleading no contest to misdemeanor spousal battery. In his divorce case that year, he also mentioned having significant health issues.
[Photo: AP, 2006]