Don Cornelius, 75, the creator and host of “Soul Train,” was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Los Angeles Police said Wednesday morning.
Cornelius started the show, which became an iconic vehicle showcasing new and veteran artists, celebrating black culture and influencing pop culture. An urban “American Bandstand,” if you will that helped artists such as legendary R&B singer Gladys Knight “to be ourselves.”
Friends and fans took to the Web immediately as they shared links to reports from news outlets including CNN, the Associated Press and celebrity gossip site TMZ.
“I am shocked and grief stricken by the reported suicide of Don Cornelius of Soul Train. I have known him since I was 19 years old,” tweeted the Rev. Al Sharpton.
“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,” the civil rights leader wrote on his Facebook page.
Veteran broadcaster Tom Joyner said the show, “brought families together for years, sometimes to watch on the only television in the house.
“It launched careers. It made history, by never trying to do more or less than that its original mission of entertaining black people first. And that's, in the slow words of Don Cornelius, ‘a stone gas, honey,’” Joyner said.
Facebook page that he was sorry to hear the news. He also encouraged his virtual followers to “join me in expressing our deepest sympathy to his family and wishing him a peaceful journey on his last ride on The Mighty Mighty Soul Train.”
Former guests also expressed their appreciation his impact on their lives.
“When I did soul train ill never 4get Don Cornelius came 2 me after rehearsal n said "you are a star! A giant!" No don u R! RIP,” tweeted rapper Q-Tip.
“RIP the legend Don Cornelius,” tweeted rapper Talib Kweli. “Soul Train was a huge part of my saturday mornings growing ujp.”
“RIP Don Cornelius! Thank you for creating a platform which helped uplift me throughout my childhood!” tweeted actor Omar Epps.
“I am shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden passing of my friend, colleague, and business partner Don Cornelius," said Quincy Jones, USA Today reported. "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."
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