HOST: Don Cornelius (1971-1993)
Like American Bandstand, Soul Train was a locally-produced show that went national. A TV reporter and part-time concert promoter based in Chicago, Don Cornelius convinced his station to air a live-music series — with black entertainers — he would produce. The show, featuring local talent like the Chi-Lites, was an immediate hit; the next year, Cornelius found a sponsor in the Johnson Products Company and began selling syndication rights to select cities across America. For almost a quarter century, Cornelius booked almost every significant black act in America — unable to connect with rap culture and lamenting what he saw as a growing coarseness in entertainment, he gave up his hosting duties in 1993.
NOTABLE GUESTS: Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, Patti LaBelle, Curtis Mayfield, Earth, Wind & Fire, Christina Aguilera, Sting, Tina Turner, and Stevie Wonder (below, performing “Superstition”)
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