Don Cornelius, the always suave creator and host of the classic syndicated dance and music series Soul Train, has been found dead in an apparent suicide. He was 75-years-old. According to the Los Angeles Times, police officers responded to a call at Cornelius' Sherman Oaks home where they found him on the floor with a gunshot wound to his head. He was then rushed to Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, where he was later pronounced dead. Police say no signs of foul play were discovered at the scene.
The dapper gentleman with the silky smooth voice was the host for Soul Train from its debut in 1971 through 1993. The show would continue in a syndicated format until 2006 with a variety of other hosts, making it the longest-running syndicated series in television history. The show was initially seen as a more African-American and urban version of the hit dance and music series American Bandstand, hosted by Dick Clark. The series became a popular showcase for up and coming soul, R&B, funk as well as rap and Hip Hop talent over the years, with countless artists making their debut appearances performing on the show.
Many of Cornelius' friends expressed great shock at his death. Music legend Quincy Jones said, "I am shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden passing of my friend, colleague, and business partner Don Cornelius. 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."
Political activist Al Sharpton said, "He brought soul music and dance to the world in a way that it had never been shown and he was a cultural game changer on a global level. Had it not been for Don Cornelius we would not have ever transcended from the "Chitlin" circuit to become mainstream cultural trendsetters."
Cornelius is survived by his two sons, Anthony and Raymond.