Seven Classic Clips From The Soul Train Archives

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This morning, Soul Train creator and host Don Cornelius was found dead from an apparent suicide at age 75, and the outpouring of grief and nostalgia was probably best summed up by the Roots' ?uestlove, whose Brooklyn Bowl party Bowl Train is an homage to the show. He wrote passionately about how the weekly airings of Soul Train influenced his development both as a budding musician and as an African-American youth coming of age in the '70s, and he noted that he carries video of old Soul Train episodes around (they're on hard drives now)—he also noted that his passion extended to him evangelizing the show to musicians he worked with, like D'Angelo (right around the time that they started working on Voodoo) and Erykah Badu. In that spirit, here are seven standout clips culled from the extensive YouTube archive of clips from the show (chosen with the assistance of Michaelangelo Matos, who also linked a few choice cuts of Al Green, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye appearing on the show in his tribute); this is barely a fraction of a fraction of what Soul Train brought into American living rooms during its TV run, so feel free to link to your own favorites in the comments section.

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Don Cornelius, R.I.P.

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via SoulTrain.com
What must it have been like to be under the sway of Don Cornelius back when he was a salesman? Damn hard to resist, most likely. Cornelius was a salesman before he was a DJ, a DJ before he was a TV host, a TV host before he was a mogul—a series of roles that require incredible patience and a knack for holding your cards close. Cornelius, with his miles-deep megawatt voice, wild sartorial tastes, and definitively unhurried manner, could have been a card sharp in a different era. Instead, he became the greatest Saturday-morning television host in American history and one of black music's ambassadors to the world.

Cornelius, who was found this morning dead of an apparent suicide at age 75, was the creator, producer, and star of Soul Train, though he'd likely have disavowed the last honor—the show's stars were the kids who danced every week. But his presence lent the show a weight unlike that of any other show of its kind. On American Bandstand, the model of the teen-dance show, Dick Clark played the eternal teenager, a slightly older ideal of a cool Philadelphia 16-year-old with some moves. First in Chicago, then L.A. once things got rolling for real, Cornelius was maybe Zeus's idea of a teenager, but nobody else's. He never raised his voice, you knew, because he never had to. Yet that gravitas worked in Soul Train's favor: This stuff was OK for your kids to like because a Very Responsible Adult was overseeing things—a super-fly bedrock for a troubled time.

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