Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Farewell Don Cornelius

Donald Cortez "Don" Cornelius
(September 27, 1936 – February 1, 2012)

For the last couple of months I have been catching reruns of old Soul Train episodes on Bounce TV. Just the other night I was watching one from 1993 and laughing like crazy because it seemed like everybody who were guest performers on the show did New Jack Swing and all the dancers were dressed like New Yorkers and Londoners, and did the hottest dances of the time. Then today, I get the sad news that the beloved man, Don Cornelius, the mastermind behind this pioneering show that lasted for more than 4 decades signed off. Today, Soul Train is the longest running television series in the history of television.

As I try to type this, the words are sort of hard to come by, because I grew up on this show. To eagerly wait Saturday afternoons for the show to air to hear the infamous SOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUL TRAIN as the train came chugging down the tracks and then the fabulous and cool Don C giving his classic intro to let you know that it was time to boogie. The memories of the scramble board, the style, trivia and more importantly, the history of our people and culture that continued to help give us a sense of pride. Let's not forget the long list of our favorite artists that spanned various genres who, in most cases lip synced their own tunes, with the coaching of Mr. Cornelius.

The climax of the show was the even more infamous SOUL TRAIN LINE. A genius idea that swept the country and maybe even the world. It was the chance for dancers on the show to display their best moves. And for those who watched, it could double as a source of comedy and to learn the latest dance crazes. Latter episodes has all the women and men together in their own separate lines. Earlier episodes contained the classic style that's still practiced today where the ladies are on one side of the line, while the men are on the other, and a single man and woman would come down in pairs to do it til they're satisfied.

The video below is one of the episodes with Mr. Cornelius interviewing Mary Wilson of The Supremes. After the interview, they both get together and cut a rug after she mentions that she wanted to get her shot at joining the line on the show. I never knew that Don danced in the line and could actually get down.

As always, the closing of the show was as classic as it gets. The well wishing catchphrase to everyone in ear-shot, that also at this point can be used as his farewell;

"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!"

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