Don Cornelius, best known as the host of “Soul Train,” the hippest trip in America, is reportedly dead of a gunshot wound. He was 75.
The "Soul Train" creator with the smooth-as-velvet voice was found in his home this morning in Sherman Oaks.
"I am shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden passing of my friend, colleague and business partner Don Cornelius," music producer Quincy Jones told The Associated Press. "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."
It’s not yet been revealed whether Don was in the house alone, but authorities are not ruling out the possibility that the shot to the head was an act of suicide.
So far, reports have not indicated whether or not Don left a note for his loved ones.
Friends of Don told Sister 2 Sister that the legend was going to be honored this weekend by TVOne, but he was unable to make it, reportedly because of a recent root canal procedure.
Although Don is revered in the Black community for creating “Soul Train,” a series that highlighted African-American entertainment and culture at a time when few others did, he did face some legal and health issues.
In 2009, he was sentenced to community service and required to pay a fine after pleading no contest to charges that he assaulted his estranged wife.
That same year, he reportedly told an L.A. judge that he wanted to “finalize this divorce before I die.”
Along with spotlighting great Black music artists, "Soul Train" encouraged pride among Blacks who were just emerging from the Civil Rights era when the series premiered in 1971.
The show’s legacy continues to live on in DVD box sets, re-airs, and paraphernalia donated to the Smithsonian African American History Museum. However, one of the most memorable things about "Soul Train" and its host is the phrase uttered at the end of each episode. Don made famous the phrase: "Love, Peace and Soul."
In honor of Don, VH1 and VH1 Classic will re-air the Emmy-Award nominated VH1 Rock Doc "Soul Train: The Hippest Trip in America" on Friday at 10 p.m. EST.
Read these celebrities’ reactions to the news.
—Tracy L. Scott
What do you remember most about Don Cornelius? Do you believe his death was a suicide? Leave your comments below.
‘Soul Train’ stops at Smithsonian