I guess it’s an unavoidable consequence of life in the middle ages that from time to time, figures from our younger days pass away. Sadly, such was the case earlier this week with the death of Soul Train creator Don Cornelius. There’s no need for me to attempt to eloquently add to the tributes bestowed upon Cornelius for the part he played in bringing R&B acts into living rooms across the country or how he made Soul Train a funkier alternative to American Bandstand.
Soul Train began in 1970 when I was 6 years old. For me, it was must see TV, especially when the Jackson 5 were scheduled to appear. Michael was just a couple of years older than me and my Drexel avenue wannabes. To this day, I still can’t get that trademark spin down right.
I was always amazed by the singing talents of Soul Train acts and how those performers could lower and fade out their voice at the end of a song – just like on the record – what a vocal skill! How did they do that? Back then, I didn’t really understand the concept of lip-syncing.
I remember the format of the featured artist first performing their single, getting interviewed by Don and them coming back to perform a second song – often a B-side (If you not of a certain age and don’t know what a B-side is, kindly Google it) – later in the show.
Johnson Hair Care products was a major sponsor – I can still smell the Afro Sheen and Ultra Sheen! I wish Johnson made a bald head scalp skin conditioner or something like that for old times sake!
Then there was the Soul Train Scramble Board. No one ever failed to unscramble the letters and identify the artist. Actually it wasn’t until a couple of years ago did I learn from a Soul Train documentary that the contestants were given the name of the artist. Don Cornelius didn’t like the idea of the dancers failing to spell correctly on national TV
These are just a few of my Soul Train memories. I’m sure you have yours of the hippest trip in America!
I enjoy writing about memories. Sadly, it’s no fun when someone’s death – celebrity or not – inspires those memories.