Their friendships with Don Cornelius lasted over 30 years, and Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle appeared numerous times on “Soul Train.”
This morning, the Queen of Soul remembered her old friend in a statement. “It’s so shocking and stunning,” she wrote. “[Don Cornelius] created a solid and broad foundation for young adults and adults alike to socialize, dance and have good clean fun. He united the young adult community single-handedly and globally.”
Franklin also credited Cornelius with setting a standard for “young aspiring African-American men and entrepreneurs in TV.” She added: “He transcended cultural barriers among young adults. They become one.”
R&B diva Patti LaBelle also remembered Cornelius in a statement, writing, “The contributions he made to music and our culture are second to none. I will always treasure the fond memories I have of working with Don over the years and being part of the history that he created through ‘Soul Train.'”
In a statement, legendary Philadelphia songwriters Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, who created the “Soul Train” theme song, remembered Cornelius for his “tremendous contributions” to entertainment. “Don’s vision allowed for African-American artists to be exposed to people all over the world through the power of television,” they wrote.
Watch Aretha Franklin’s first appearance on “Soul Train” in 1973.
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