(Reuters) - Don Cornelius, creator of the iconic television music show “Soul Train,” died on Wednesday after shooting himself in the head at his Los Angeles home. He was 75.
Following are some key facts about Cornelius and the show he hosted for more than 20 years.
* Cornelius started his career as a police officer before becoming a disc jockey and news reader at a Chicago radio station in the 1960s. He later got into concert promotions featuring local talent.
* He launched ‘Soul Train’ as a live TV dance and music show in Chicago in 1970. It was one of the first TV shows to feature African-Americans prominently and was syndicated nationally from 1971 to 2006. Cornelius hosted the show until 1993, then stayed on afterward working behind the scenes.
* Carmen Electra, Nick Cannon, MC Hammer and Laurieann Gibson were among the “Soul Train” dancers who got their first taste of fame on the show.
* Music artists appearing on the show ranged from Marvin Gaye, James Brown and The Jackson 5 to Elton John, David Bowie and Paula Abdul.
* Blessed with a smooth deep voice, Cornelius closed the show each week with the phrase, “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!”
* The Soul Train Music Awards, which honor the best in black music and entertainment, were created in 1987 and are broadcast annually on the BET TV channel.
Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Cynthia Johnston