R.I.P. Don Cornelius

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Don Cornelius, the man who created Soul Train, was reportedly found dead Wednesday morning at his Los Angeles home.  Police sources tell TMZ.com that Cornelius appears to have taken his own life; sources say he died from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  He was 75.

Cornelius created “Soul Train” and hosted the show in national syndication from 1971 to 1993.  It was the first real venue on American TV for soul music, and as the show’s writer and producer, as well as host, Cornelius played a vital role in bringing stars like James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Michael Jackson to a wider audience.  Some have described the show as “a black American Bandstand,” though Cornelius was not a fan of that comparison.  As the host, he was known for the catchphrase with which he closed each episode: “I’m Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul!”

“Soul Train,” which ceased airing in 2006, also spun off the Soul Train Music Awards and the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards.   Its most famous theme song, “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia),” by MFSB became a massive pop hit in 1974.