Donald Cortez “Don” Cornelius was able to break down racial barriers and broaden the reach of the African American culture through music. Before Robert Johnson brought us BET and before Michael Jackson found his way to MTV, Soul Train was our pioneering outlet.
Soul Train began in 1970 in Chicago on WCIU-TV, after securing a sponsorship deal with Sears, Roebuck and Co., as a live show airing weekday afternoons. To date, it is the longest-running, first-run, nationally syndicated program in television history with over 1,100 episodes produced between October 1971 to March 2006.
During this time Soul Train not only became known as the place to hear the latest and greatest songs by well-known African-American artists, but also for cues about the latest fashion and dance trends. It also provided a unique window into the African-American culture. By doing this it garnered comparison to another show that shared some similarities and became known to outside cultures as a “black American Bandstand.”
With the recent passing of Don Cornelius one thing we will always remember is his smooth, deep voice mouthing his famous catchphrase, “… and you can bet your last money, it’s all gonna be a stone gas, honey! I’m Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul!”