The death of Don Cornelius is sending shock waves through black America. As we mourn the loss of a true legend and pioneer in the entertainment business, The Urban Daily wanted to look back at some of the moments that made us turn on our televisions every Saturday morning. Check out some of our favorite moments and leave your favorite Soul Train memories here.
Don Cornelius Does Soul Train Line
There was a reason Don Cornelius only did the Soul Train Line one time on television. That’s because he straight busted his face on somebody’s platform shoe after tripping over his own feet. Somehow Mary Wilson, formerly of The Supremes, convinced him to bust a move and things didn’t turn out great. When he fell all of the dancers laughed about it. Don Cornelius realized he was a better Soul Train conductor than party passenger.
Gino Vanelli Becomes First White Artist To Perform
Largely known as a black music platform, Gino Vanelli broke the color barrier on the show in the mid-70s. Vanelli’s performance was easily digestible because many people thought he was black when they heard his music. It turns out the white guy just had a lot of soul. Vanelli said in a VH1 documentary that he noticed more black people bought tickets to his shows after he made an appearance on Cornelius’ stage.
Hip-Hop Makes Its Soul Train Debut
Don Cornelius was famous for not being an advocate for rap music when it first became popular. He also said, he allowed Kurtis Blow on the show because Soul Train featured the hippest new music, so how could he not serve his audience what they wanted despite his personal reservations. During the after performance interview, Don made a comment to Blow about not understanding the hip-hop movement which Blow later confessed crushed him.
David Bowie’s Botched Lip-Synching Job
Everybody knows most of the performances on Soul Train were lip synched. David Bowie had a huge hit with “Fame” and came on to do his thing. Only problem was he forgot to practice the lyrics and was looking a mess when he got on stage. No one minded because “Fame” was one of the funkiest songs at the time and everybody just wanted something hot to dance to.
Rosie Perez Gets Her Janet Jackson Dance On
When it came to the dancers, Rosie Perez changed the game for Soul Train. While most of the female dancers infused sensuality in their movements, Perez’ moves oozed brash New York flavor. Plenty of times she was asked to tone down her dancing, but Perez was hard headed. Rosie always danced harder when told to act like a lady. When she hit the Soul Train line with some Janet Jackson moves, she blended sensuality with that around-the-way spice and became a hit on the show.
Gladys Knight & The Pips Performs
Gladys Knight & The Pips are quietly one of the most important groups to ever appear on Soul Train. Once networks found out the singing stars were going to appear on the show, Soul Train got its syndication deal. Companies didn’t want to deal with a show mainly geared toward black people and Gladys Knight & The Pips helped Cornelius beat that obstacle.
Shalamar’s First Televised Performance
Shalamar’s performance is important because they are the first group to be put together on the show. Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel were Soul Train dancers before making the leap into music. The best part about the set is some of the dancers were mean mugging as they sang. The fact Watley, Daniel , and Gary Mumford powered through “Take That To The Bank” with all the hate drifting in their direction is what true performers do. Take that to the bank.