In February of this year, the original soul man, Don Cornelius, committed suicide. He was 75. In 1971, via his popular music and dance program, Soul Train, Cornelius brought soulful R&B musicians, music, and exceptional dancers like Damita Jo Freeman, Joe Chisum and Patricia Davis to television. In its early days, Soul Train was — as the kids today might say — the bomb! In addition to feating popular recording artists of the day the program drew a widespread Black audience.
I doubt if I am the only of of Cornelius’s fans who wonders whether, as he departed this world, if his last thoughts were of his signature catchphrase which he enthusiastically rendered as he was signing off at the end Soul Train program “. . . and always in parting I wish you love, peace and soul!”
Two months later after we loss Cornelius another great in the field of musical entertainment moved on to that Boomerland in the hereafter.
On April 18, Dick Clark, the charismatic host of American Bandstand died of a heart attack. He was 82 years young. During the 1960s, long before Soul Train arrived, my friends and I watched American Bandstand. As we grew older, I enjoyed watching Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin Eve and unexpectedly I learned that like me many of my friends enjoyed bringing in the New Year with Dick Clark, too.
It was in the 1970s, and I was throwing a house party. My guests were dancing all over the place to a hot tune by Earth, Wind and Fire that was blasting on the stereo. At around 11:45 p.m. someone lowered the volume and switched on the television set, and all of the revelers stopped dancing long enough to gather around the TV for the countdown and to ring in the New Year with Dick Clark broadcasting from Times Square. Clark was cremated on April 18.
How ironic that both Cornelius and Clark would died within months of each other. Gentlemen thanks for the memories. RIP.