Music TV Art Books Fashion Interview A to Z Film Politics Calendar Gift Shop Motherlode.TV Home Page

Don Cornelius

DON CORNELIUS (1936 - 2012)
TV :::

A towering figure at six-foot-four, he got his start as a deejay in his hometown of Chicago during the heyday of the highly influential radio station WVON. The AM station was short on wattage but huge in influence and was owned by the brothers Phil and Leonard Chess of the legendary blues label Chess Records. The influence was so great that Motown's Berry Gordy would pre-release his latest singles to WVON before all other radio stations. Don soon migrated to television as a personality on the Windy City's UHF band, WCIU-TV Channel 26, where they shared programming from professional wrestling to re-runs of future TV classics in the earliest days of syndication. On August 17, 1970, Cornelius debuted one of music's most important programs, the local blackcentric, Soul Train.

Advertisers quickly fell into place with a chance to target the burgeoning black consumer market. Sears & Roebuck was first to climb aboard followed by Chicago's Johnson Products who produced an array of beauty solutions that included both Afro Sheen and Ultra Sheen. The train had left the station.

Syndication became the game of the day with Hee Haw saturating the country music audience as Lawrence Welk waltzed into mainstream living rooms. Before long, Chicago's Soul Train began airing in the United States' biggest cities.

The highlight of each episode was the Soul Train Line where America waited transfixed as couples busted out the latest dance moves on urban America's version of the red carpet.

Other music related shows shared in the success of the new music/tv formula including The Midnight Special, Don Kirshner's Rock Concert and the fumes of American Bandstand which still aired for years beyond its hip factor.

Cornelius was openly spooked and confused by the rise of Hip Hop which skyrocketed in Soul Train's twilight years as MTV filled the void Soul Train left.

The Motherlode Directory From A to Z Motherlode Music Motherlode Art Motherlode Books Motherlode Politics Motherlode Politics
Motherlode Films  Motherlode Fashions Motherlode Interview ../Motherlode Television 

Searching For The Motherlode
(c) 2015 Motherlode.TV