(Don Cornelius plays 1-on-1 basketball with Marvin Gaye)
By Sowmya Krishnamurthy
Known as “the hippest trip in America,” “Soul Train” was one of the most seminal music and cultural programs. Known as the longest-running, first-run, nationally syndicated program in television history, “Soul Train” featured notable artists spanning the gamut of R&B/soul, funk and hip-hop from James Brown, the Jackson Five, Elton John and Patti LaBelle to later, Eric B. & Rakim, Big Daddy Kane and OutKast. In honor of “Soul Train” creator Don Cornelius’ untimely death, here are some of the most poignant, funny and memorable moments from over 30 years of “Peace, Love and Soooouul”:
1. Don Cornelius playing 1-on-1 basketball against singer Marvin Gaye (in very vintage athletic threads) with singer Smokey Robinson refereeing the game.
2. Stevie Wonder performing a monster medley of “I Wish,” “My Cherie Amor,” and “Sir Duke.”
3. Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson joining forces for a duet with “Ooo Baby Baby”.
4. Don Cornelius telling guest Kurtis Blow that he didn’t understand hip-hop. “I mean it doesn’t make sense to old guys like me, I mean I don’t understand why they love it so much.” Cornelius’ tart honesty was a blow to the young rapper.
5. Elton John in sparkly green rocking out to “Philadelphia Freedom” and “Bennie and the Jets.”
6. The Jackson 5 making its debut in October 1972 and baby bro Michael making his solo debut in October 1974.
7. Salutes to legendary singers (e.g. November 17, 1979’s Salute to Smokey Robinson, December 1, 1979’s Salute to Aretha Franklin and June 4, 1980’s Salute to Barry White).
8. Lip-syncing sensation Milli Vanilli hitting the stage in 1989 for “Girl You Know It’s True” and “I’m Gonna Miss You.”
9. Run-DMC performing “Hit It Run” in 1980.
10. October 20, 2000’s jam-packed Quincy Jones Tribute featuring Tevin Campbell, Siedah Garrett, Al B. Sure, The Winans, El DeBarge, Valerie Mayo, Big Daddy Kane, Melle Mel and Kool Moe Dee.
On Wednesday morning (February 1), Cornelius was found dead in his Sherman Oaks, California home with a gunshot wound to the head. Sources told TMZ that Cornelius’ death appears to be a self-afflicted suicide.It was also reported that police discovered Cornelius’ body at around 4 a.m. PT on Wednesday and he was later taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was 75 years old.