The death of Don Cornelius this week is sad at a great many levels.
But today let's celebrate the immeasurable contributions that Mr. Cornelius made to black music and American culture. Every Saturday morning from 1971-2006, Soul Train presented not only the best in soul music, but great interviews, with candid insights into black culture at a time of rapid social change in the US, plus awesome fashion and dancing. It allowed a white kid like me in the 1970's to sneak behind the racial curtain, into the black club, the black church, the classroom at the black college. It was as educational as it was wildly entertaining.
There are so many great Soul Train clips on You Tube, I urge you to dive in there, you'll be amazed what you will find.
But here's a few to get you started. First, a terrific interview with Curtis Mayfield when Superfly was released:
One of the remarkable elements of the show was how the superstar artists were right in the thick of the studio audience, literally up close and physical with them, as here when Marvin Gaye lip synchs "Let's Get It On":
Here's The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, doing a live vocal over the recorded track; this song goes out to one of our great WYMA writers:
And finally, the famous Soul Train dance line, this time featuring Don Cornelius himself in one of only two times he joined the line in the history of the show, with Mary Wilson of the Supremes, to the sounds of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown: