The world was shocked and saddened today to hear of the passing of legendary and influential Soul Train creator, executive producer and host (for 22 of its 35 seasons) Don Cornelius, who was found in his Los Angeles home dead of a gunshot wound in what appears to have been a suicide, though the investigation was said to be ongoing. He was 75.
“We are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Don Cornelius,” said Debra L. Lee, Chairman & CEO of BET Networks. “He was a pioneer in the television and music industries, and his legacy and influence on American culture will continue to live on for many generations to come. He made Soul Train a destination for lovers of black culture and music and connected the world to our culture, and we are forever grateful.”
“We owe so much of our success to him,” she continued. “He built the space for the creation of a BET, built a platform for the music that our audience loves and gave a voice to countless artists that shaped black culture and beyond — his impact can’t be measured. He will be missed, but remembered at every wedding, party and family reunion forever with the enduring Soul Train line.”
BET and its sister network, Centric, will pay homage to Cornelius beginning today with a special lineup of programming dedicated to his prolific life and legacy. Here’s a rundown:
106 & Park – 6pm ET on BET. In this special episode, hosts Terrence J and Rocsi will honor the life and accomplishments of Don Cornelius with a special vignette.
Soul Train: The Hippest Trip in America – 8pm ET on BET; 10pm ET on Centric. This documentary celebrates Soul Train‘s many contributions to pop culture, music, dance and fashion. It features performances and memorable moments from the show, as well as behind-the-scene stories and memories from the cast and crew. In addition, popular musicians, comics and actors of yesterday and today comment on growing up with the show and how it affected their own lives.
24-Hour Soul Train Marathon – midnight ET (late-night February 1) on Centric. A special daylong marathon of classic Soul Train episodes.
Soul Train Awards 2011 – 8pm ET on BET; also airs February 3 at 9pm ET on Centric. A replay of last year’s awards ceremony, which was hosted by Cedric the Entertainer and included performances by Melanie Fiona, Common, Cee Lo Green, Keith Sweat and more, along with a tribute to Heavy D.
12-hour Soul Train Marathon – 10am ET on Centric. More classic episodes.
Soul Train Awards 2010 — 10pm ET on Centric. A reairing of the 2010 awards ceremony
12-hour Soul Train Marathon – 9am ET on Centric. The commemorative programming comes to a close with another 12 hours of classic Soul Train episodes.
Credit: Milan Ryba/ZUMA Press/Newscom