Don Cornelius Funeral: 2nd set for February 16th with live feed

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For all yall doubting Thomas’ who thought that something funny was going on With Don Cornelius’ death.  The coronor did rule out homicide recently and his son says he spoke to his dad shortly before he took his life.  Don Cornelius was cremated in a private funeral service attended by family and friends in Los Angeles on Thursday (February 9). Officiated by The Reverend Jesse Jackson, the service was held at the same cemetery where other celebrities like Michael Jackson are interred, Forrest Lawn. According to Cornelius’ son Tony, “The Rev. Jackson and my father were very, very close friends and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” as reported by the Associated Press. A Memorial is set for February 16, 2012 in LA at Forrest Lawn and although it, too, is scheduled to be private, there will be a live feed says Cornielius son, Tony.

 

By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

The son of “Soul Train” creator Don Cornelius said on Thursday his father called him shortly before taking his life, and that he was unhappy and in failing health but kept most of his feelings inside.

Don Cornelius, 75, shot himself in the head at his Los Angeles home early on Wednesday, shocking “Soul Train” fans and hundreds of musicians who appeared on the pioneering 1970s music and dance TV show.
Tony Cornelius, who worked closely with his father on “Soul Train” told “CBS This Morning” that he had received a phone call from his dad on Wednesday morning.
“It was a call of urgency and I came to his home immediately,” he said.
“He had been very unhappy about some things that had gone on in his life and his health was failing,” Tony Cornelius said. But none of his family realized quite how depressed he was.
“My father was extremely private and unfortunately, when you’re a private person, you keep things inside … Obviously, me being extremely close to him, I could tell that he was uncomfortable. But our family could never know that he would — how uncomfortable he really was,” he added.
Cornelius later issued a statement thanking “Soul Train” fans for their support and asking for privacy.
“At this time, we respectfully ask that you allow our family and friends the privacy necessary to get through this difficult time. We thank all the well-wishers and the fans who have supported the Soul Train legacy. Love, Peace and Soul.”
A spokeswoman for the family said a memorial service was being planned for February 13 in Los Angeles. It was not immediately clear whether it would be private or public.
Obituary:

Donald Cortez Cornelius was born Sept. 27, 1936, in Chicago. After high school, he served as a Marine in Korea. Cornelius was working as an insurance salesman when he spent $400 on a broadcasting course and landed a part-time job in 1966 as announcer, newsman and DJ on WVON radio. That’s where listeners first heard the distinctively measured and rich Cornelius rumble.

Cornelius began moonlighting at WCIU-TV when Roy Wood, his mentor at WVON, moved there, and won a job producing and hosting “A Black’s View of the News.” When the station wanted to expand its “ethnic” programming, he pitched a black music show, and “Soul Train” was born.

“You want to do what you’re capable of doing. If I saw (Dick Clark’s) ‘American Bandstand’ and I saw dancing and I knew black kids can dance better; and I saw white artists and I knew black artists make better music; and if I saw a white host and I knew a black host could project a hipper line of speech, and I did know all these things,” then it was reasonable to try, he said.

“Soul Train,” which began in 1970, followed some of the “Bandstand” format with its audience and young dancers. But that’s where the comparisons stopped. Cornelius, the suave, ultra-cool emcee, made “Soul Train” appointment viewing.

“There was not programming that targeted any particular ethnicity,” he said in 2006, then added: “I’m trying to use euphemisms here, trying to avoid saying there was no television for black folks, which they knew was for them.”

Debra Lee, who is chairman and chief executive of Black Entertainment Television, was one of those youngsters who tuned in to the show. She said she would finish her chores early so she could check out the latest music, fashions and dance moves.

“His reach is just amazing, and personally he was such a charming man,” she said, calling Cornelius a role model and “a great interviewer who knew how to connect to artists” and had “the best voice in the world.”

With that voice, he helped bring the best R&B, soul and later hip-hop acts to TV. It was one of the first TV shows to showcase African-American artists including Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Barry White.

“You have to dream,” Cornelius said in a 1995 interview. “I dreamed everything. I used to introduce Marvin Gaye in my living room. So when the time came that I was going to really introduce guys like Marvin Gaye and Steve Wonder, I had done it before.”

“Soul Train” had a whimsical cartoon train and whistle that opened each show. And Cornelius would close each show with his sign-off: “Love, peace, and SOUL!” drawing out the pronunciation of the last word with his deep voice.

The show, with his sharp eye for talent, became the cornerstone of his entertainment empire. He acted as independent producer-host-salesman to bring “Soul Train” into partnership with Tribune Entertainment Co., which became the show’s distributor in the 1980s.

The show chugged gradually onto TV screens nationwide: Only a handful of stations initially were receptive. Johnson Products Co., maker of Afro Sheen and other hair-care goods, was its major sponsor and the first black-owned company to sponsor a national weekly TV show. Years later, major advertisers including Coca-Cola and McDonald’s joined.

“Soul Train” aired nationally from 1971 to 2006. Asked why it endured, he told The New York Times in 1995: “There is an inner craving among us all, within us all, for television that we can personally connect to.” He stepped down as host in 1993, and sold it to MadVision Entertainment in 2008.

“Don Cornelius was a pioneer & a trailblazer,” Earvin “Magic” Johnson wrote on Twitter. “He was the first African-American to create, produce, host & more importantly OWN his own show.”

Though “Soul Train” became one of the longest-running syndicated shows in TV history, its power began to wane in the 1980s and ’90s as American pop culture began folding in black culture instead of keeping it segregated.

But even when Michael Jackson became the King of Pop, there was still a need to highlight the achievements of African-Americans that were still marginalized at mainstream events. So Cornelius created the “Soul Train Awards,” which would become a key honor for musicians. The series also spawned the Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards and the Soul Train Christmas Starfest.

Along the way, however, Cornelius became estranged from a changing music scene that clashed with his relatively conservative taste. Read More

Source: Reuters &
Associated Press writers Nekesa Moody, Frazier Moore, Mesfin Fekadu and David Bauder in New York and Robert Jablon, Jeff Wilson, Anthony McCartney and Sandy Cohen in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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