On Saturday (February 4), hundreds of fans hit New York’s Times Square and recreated Soul Train lines in a flash mob to honor the show’s creator Don Cornelius, who committed suicide last Wednesday.
Tony Cornelius received a call from his dad at 3 a.m. “That phone call was just a, ‘I’m not feeling well, I don’t think I’m gonna be here long’”, Tony said in media interviews. “During that call, it was a call of urgency and I came to his home immediately.” He found his dad with a gunshot wound to the head and called 911. Don Cornelius was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Tony stated that his father had been “very unhappy” about things in his life and suffered from “a sadness”: “You hope they can snap out of it because they always have. … It’s a sadness that you never believe is as big as it is.”
While law enforcement officials believe Cornelius killed himself, the investigation continues until the coroner’s office issues a cause of death. According to reports, its ruling may come any day now. Following news of Cornelius’s death, Soul Train Holdings CEO Kenard Gibbs and Chairman Earvin “Magic” Johnson issued official statements. Read them and see photos from Saturday’s flash mob below.
Statements from Soul Train Holdings CEO & Chairman
We are overwhelmed with the news regarding the passing of Don Cornelius. Our deepest sympathy and thoughts are with his family at this time. He was a true television visionary and his contributions to African American culture, music, and entertainment are incomparable. The outpouring of affection and tributes to his legacy are a true testament to the profound impact that his life’s work had on many generations.
— Kenard Gibbs, CEO of Soul Train Holdings
Don Cornelius was a pioneer, an innovator, and a trailblazer. He was the first African-American to create, produce, host and more importantly OWN his own television show. Soul Train was a nationally syndicated show that paved the way for singers, musicians and dancers, giving them the ultimate platform to showcase their talents when no one else would. Every Saturday morning I looked forward to watching Soul Train, as did millions of other people. Soul Train taught the world how to dance! Don’s contribution to us all is immeasurable. He will truly be missed. I thank him for trusting me with his Soul Train brand and I will carry on his legacy through it. My condolences to his son and my good friend Tony Cornelius and the entire Cornelius family.
— Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Soul Train Holdings Chairman