Don Cornelius ‘had been very unhappy’

    It has been almost a week since Don Cornelius’ apparent suicide, and in the midst of the many honors and tributes since, many fans remain in shock.

    On February 1, the “Soul Train” creator was found dead in his Los Angeles home with a single gunshot wound to the head. He was 75.

    With suicide being somewhat of a taboo subject in the Black community, many were caught off guard by the legendary host’s death, and the tragedy shed a harsh light on the often muted subject.

    Despite his many accomplishments, Don was unhappy, his son Tony Cornelius said in an interview with “CBS This Morning."

    “He had been very unhappy about things that had gone on in his life and his health,” he said during the interview without going into specifics. In addition to his health issues, Don also went through a difficult divorce in 2009.
    “My father was extremely private,” the younger Cornelius continued. “Unfortunately, when you’re a private person, you keep things inside.” Tony said his father called him the morning of the incident, and, following the conversation, he rushed to his father’s home, where he was found dead.

    Katie Jones, who worked with Don as a producer on "Soul Train" for more than a decade, told Sister 2 Sister, "For the 15 years I knew him, he was not suicidal. That never would have been expected, but I don’t know. I don’t know what was going on his life."
    Since that day, celebrity tributes to the music and television legend have flowed online through various Twitter “RIP” messages from stars like Rihanna, Diddy and Nicki Minaj.
    On Saturday, about 100 “Soul Train” fans donning afro wigs and ’70’s gear brought the show’s signature dance line to life in New York’s Time Square during a flash mob.
    The dancers partied for about 45 minutes before the event was broken up by police.
    And not too far away in Harlem, the Rev. Al Sharpton,who actually appeared on the show in his teens, led another tribute to Don, alongside singer Roberta Flack, during one of his National Action Network meetings, The Huffington Post reports. The crowd and other special guests reminisced about Don and their favorite episodes.

    Although the hit series and the "Soul Train" line may be what many remember most, Katie said she wants Don’s fans to remember how he helped others in the industry.

    "For African Americans, Don launched a lot of careers in front of the camera and behind the camera. He is a national treasure. He is a very important person within the African American community," she said. "When people would ask me about who was on “Soul Train”—I constantly got that question—I would respond, that it’s easier to tell you those who didn’t do ‘Soul Train.’"
    See video of the flash mob below.


    —Hortense Barber

    Get more on Don in the April 2011 issue of Sister 2 Sister.


    Here’s more:
    Don Cornelius death possible suicide
    ‘Soul Train’ stops at Smithsonian
    Photos: Soul Train Awards 2011




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