Don Cornelius was the creator, producer, and longtime host of the long-running music show Soul Train
. A Korean War vet, former DJ and local TV sportscaster, Don Cornelius began hosting after-school dance parties in the Chicago area in 1969, parties which he called the Soul Train. He turned the idea into a show for Chicago station WCIU in 1970, then moved the show to Los Angeles and syndicated it across the country in 1971. Soul Train
became an iconic show for African-Americans: a weekly showcase of R&B music and urban fashion, and one of the few outlets for black culture on American television at the time. The show introduced the "Soul Train line," with dancers strutting down a row for the cameras to the music of artists like James Brown
, Aretha Franklin
. Don Cornelius himself hosted Soul Train
from 1971 until 1993 -- with "his deep voice, his sharp suits, his aviator glasses and the stage presence of a grown-up music fan," as The New York Times
wrote after his death -- and ended every show with his trademark sign-off of "Love, peace and soul." He continued to produce the show with other hosts until 2006; by then it had become one of the longest-running shows in American television history. Don Cornelius died in 2012 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.