Fans and celebrities were stunned when news broke Wednesday that "Soul Train" creator Don Cornelius took his life with a gun. He was 75.
Police responded to Cornelius' Los Angeles-area home about 4 a.m. Tuesday after reports of a gunshot. He was later pronounced dead at a Los Angeles hospital.
The baritone-voice creator and host of the popular dance show was known for his promise to take views on "the hippest trip in America." However, his lasting legacy will be the influence he had on today's entertainers.
Dozens of celebrities have expressed their sadness via Twitter and official statements.
Aretha Franklin came up in the industry around the peak of "Soul Train." She wrote about her sadness over his apparent suicide.
"It's just so sad, stunning and downright shocking and a huge and momentous loss to the African-American community and the world at large," Franklin said in a statement. "Don Cornelius single handedly brought about a melding and unity of brother and sisterhood among young adults worldwide and globally with the unforgettable creation of Soul Train."
Singer Lenny Kravitz was another one of those singers influenced by the style and beat of "Soul Train."
"Brother Don Cornelius. You made being black beautiful. May you rest in peace, love and soul," he tweeted on Wednesday afternoon.
The Roots drummer Questlove is devastated by the loss of Cornelius. The show - and its creator - played a large part in making the musician the man he is today.
"Don Cornelius was my first non musical non celeb non blood related hero," Questo wrote in a stream-of-consciousness blog post. "Its amazing timing that my arrival on earth and his greatest creative manifestation came within 9 months of each other. both symbolizing a new hope for urban America."
He added that Cornelius was one of the most important leaders for African Americans because of his perseverance and determination to make a show centered on the culture in post-Civil Rights America.
"To say with a straight, dignified face that BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL was the RISKIEST radical life-changing move that America has seen. and amazingly enough for one hour for one Saturday out the week, if you were watching soul train….it became contagious. next thing you know you are actually believing you have some sort of worth."
Carrie Ann Inaba
"Dancing With the Stars" judge Carrie Ann Inaba thanked Cornelius on Twitter for his contributions to dancers everywhere.
"Where would many of us #dancers be without #SOULTRAIN....Sad Day today...RIP Don Cornelius," she tweeted on Wednesday.
"Criminal Minds" actor Shemar Moore told Entertainment Tonight that he heard Cornelius was suffering from early-onset dementia.
"I don't know what his health was like. I had heard rumors that it was early [onset] dementia, Alzheimer's, things like that," he said. "I don't know how he got to this place. I don't know what made him take his own life this morning. But after we shed our tears, after we say our prayers, after we put him to rest in our own ways, I hope there's a lot of celebration."
Whoopi Goldberg and Sheri Shepherd
Whoopi Goldberg broke the news of Cornelius' passing on "The View" Wednesday morning.
"I don't know very many people of a certain age who don't remember 'Soul Train,'" Goldberg remembered. "I know that everybody danced in the room [while watching]."
Shepherd added her memories.
"Soul Train, it was like, this was the show for black people when you wanted to learn how to dance ... I remember I learned how to spell with the scramble board from 'Soul Train' ... I didn't know how to use 'Shalamar' in a sentence, but I knew how to spell it," she remembered.
It's really sad that he didn't know how loved he was before ending his life.
Did "Soul Train" and Don Conelius influence you?
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