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'Soul Train' founder Don Cornelius was a private person, says family

corneliusDon020212_optBY BOB HOLT
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

Don Cornelius suffered from health ailments and underwent brain surgery in the 1980s, but investigators have not made any determinations on his death by gunshot wound.

Cornelius, best known for creating "Soul Train," was found shot in the head in his Sherman Oaks home early Wednesday morning. Officials are investigating his death as a possible suicide.

According to the New York Daily News, Cornelius called his son Tony on the day he may have shot himself. Tony Cornelius said, “It was a call of urgency, and I came to his home immediately.” Cornelius did not say whether he was first to find the body, and there was no suicide note.

Tony Cornelius told CBS News, “When you're a private person, you keep things inside. I could tell that he was uncomfortable. But our family could never know how uncomfortable he really was."

Some friends have said Cornelius was fighting psychological and emotional issues, and another said he was bi-polar. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Cornelius had made recent comments about being deeply depressed, and had financial concerns due to a 2009 divorce, which may have been an indicator of problems.

ABC News reported that Cornelius, 75, faced a 21-hour operation "in 1982 to correct a congenital malformation in blood vessels in his brain.”

Kenard Gibbs, CEO of Soul Train Holdings, had been talking to Cornelius about bringing Soul Train back to television. Gibbs said, according to USA Today, "He was not a despondent guy."

According to the Los Angeles Times, “Soul Train” was the longest-running, first-run nationally syndicated show in television history. Soul Train was on the air from 1971 until 2006, and Cornelius hosted the program until 1993. Soul Train was the first real national showcase for soul music on television, and Cornelius helped to bring stars like James Brown, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson to a wider audience.

Celebrities such as New Jersey’s Wyclef Jean were paying tribute to Cornelius. According to Radar Online, Jean posted on Twitter: “JUST WOKE UP TO SOME SAD NEWS , R.I.P. Don Cornelius founder of SOUL TRAIN," while Ice Cube used Cornelius’ "Soul Train" catch phrase to honor him: “Rest in Peace, Love & Soul...Don Cornelius.”

 

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