“Soul Train” Creator Don Cornelius Dead After Self-Inflicted Gunshot

Police responded early Wednesday to the Sherman Oaks home of the "Soul Train" creator and host

"Soul Train" creator Don Cornelius has died after a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his upper torso Wednesday at his Mulholland Drive home, according to Los Angeles police. 

Shortly before the incident, Cornelius' son, who had just spoken with his father on the phone, called 911, said LAPD media spokeswoman Sarah Faden. The son and an ambulance arrived on the scene at the same time, Faden said.

The shooting occurred at the producer's home at 12685 Mulholland Drive. Police responded to the home at about 4:30 a.m. and later confirmed the gunshot wound was self-inflicted.

LAPD squad cars remained at the home as of 8:30 a.m. PT. No note was found at the scene, police said.

Flowers will be placed on Cornelius' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 7080 Hollywood Blvd. near the corner of La Brea Avenue at 1 p.m. PT.

Cornelius, 75, worked in the insurance business before heading to broadcasting school in the 1960s. The decision would lead him to create "Soul Train," a show that would endure for more than 30 years, but it was a traffic stop that led to a big break.

Cornelius was hired as an announcer on WVON after working as an officer in Chicago. He pulled over radio personality Ed Cobb, who was so impressed by Cornelius' voice that he invited him to the station to make a demo tape.

Cornelius pitched the idea for "Soul Train" to station owners at Chicago's WCIU in the late 1960s. The show featured dancers moving to the latest soul and R&B music, and often included a famous musical guest.

He served as host until the early 1990s, when the show turned to guest hosts. The show lost its distributor in 2007.

Patti LaBelle called him "simply a genius" whose contibutions to music and culture are second to none.

Colleagues, peers and admirers acknowledged Cornelius as a true pioneer.

"Soul Train taught the world how to dance," tweeted Lakers legend Magic Johnson. "Don’s contribution to us all is immeasurable."

Last year, Johnson became chairman of Vibe Holdings, parent company of Vibe magazine and owner of "Soul Train." The business deal went down about three decades after Johnson appeared on the show, towering over others on the dance floor (scroll down for video).

Friend and business partner, entertainer Quincy Jones, called Cornelius a "visionary pioneer."

"I am shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden passing of my friend, colleague, and business partner Don Cornelius," Jones said in a statement. "Don was a visionary pioneer and a giant in our business. Before MTV there was Soul Train, that will be the great legacy of Don Cornelius. His contributions to television, music and our culture as a whole will never be matched."

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