Producer, entrepreneur, television personality. Don Cornelius is an American television icon, having createdSoul Train, a music show made for African Americans by African Americans, which spent more than 30 years on the air. A natural salesman, he started out in the insurance business in the 1950s. Cornelius went to a broadcasting school in 1966, looking to break into the field. To realize his dream, he worked a substitute DJ, filling in for other on-air personalities, and in the news department of WVON radio in Chicago.
Switching to television, Cornelius became a sports anchor and the host of A Black’s View of the News on WCIU in 1968. He got to know the station owners and pitched them his idea for a music television program. Using $400 of his own money, Cornelius created a pilot for Soul Train, which was named after a promotional event he put together in 1969. Inspired by American Bandstand, the show featured teenagers dancing to the latest soul and R&B music as well as a performance by a musical guest. “Almost all of what I learned about mounting and hosting a dance show I learned from Dick Clark,” Cornelius later told Advertising Age.
Premiering on August 17, 1970, Soul Train quickly became popular. It aired on Saturday mornings, attracting a lot of children and teenagers off from school. An early supporter, businessman George Johnson of the Johnson Products Company, helped Cornelius make Soul Train a nationally television program.
Yep, remember watching Soul Train before it was syndicated…fuck me, I’m old