“Soul Train” creator and host Don Cornelius, who brought R&B into America’s living rooms with his long-running television show, committed suicide Wednesday, according to TMZ.com
The 75-year-old Cornelius was found with a gunshot wound to the head around 4 a.m. inside his Sherman Oaks, Calif., home, Los Angeles police said.
The celebrity web site said the fatal gunshot was self-inflicted.
Cornelius had battled health problems in recent years, and endured an ugly, public divorce that followed a 2009 sentence of three years’ probation for spousal battery.
His legendary television show, dubbed “The Hippest Trip in America,” presented stars like Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin and Barry White to a national television audience.
Cornelius, with his deep voice, stylish clothes and soaring Afro, provided a hipper alternative to Dick Clark and “American Bandstand” when his show debuted on Aug. 17, 1970.
The first episodes aired locally in Chicago, broadcasting from a too-small studio inside Chicago Board of Trade building. Cornelius put up $400 of his own money to produce the first show.
He then lured the talent to the unusual venue: the Staple Singers, Curtis Mayfield, B.B. King.