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RIP, Don Cornelius: Here's Prince's "1999" on Soul Train

There's one fewer soul survivor now that Don Cornelius has passed. The producer, creator, and host of Soul Train was found dead Wednesday morning at his Los Angeles home. He was 75, and his death was reportedly a suicide by self-inflicted gunshot wound.

There really should be a movie about Cornelius and Soul Train because this show served as one of the only portals into the realm of black culture in American music found on syndicated television. Not only was it a trend-spotting locus for the best in current sounds, but the politics of dancing, and the fashion not on display in the windows of Sears figured heavily into Cornelius' formula. has posted this tribute:

By now, you have read reports of the passing of our beloved Don Cornelius on AP or other credible news sources. We at are saddened to hear the news and are praying for Mr. Cornelius' family and friends.

Thanks to an assist by City Pages' own Nate Patrin, we have a clip featuring Prince's "1999," and a remarkable cast of dancers. Our favorite is the pulsating shoulders of a green-clad gent at the :13 mark.

During Cornelius' tenure as host between 1970 and 1993, the brand of Soul Train proved to be inextricably linked to both cultural and social activism. In this 1974 interview segment with James Brown, our host spends a good portion of the time talking about lifting the black community out of a violent state. Later on, Cornelius engineers a visit by a 19-year-old (!) Al Sharpton to present Brown with a "black" record certification, remarking: "We feel like 'The Payback' is sort of like the theme song of young black America 1974." Impressive stuff. Missing you, Don.

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