Father of 'Soul Train' Don Cornelius Dies at 75

February 1, 2012 By:
Father of 'Soul Train' Don Cornelius Dies at 75

Love, Peace….and Soul.

The legendary creator of Soul Train, Don Cornelius, has passed away. Cornelius was found dead Wednesday morning in his home in Sherman Oaks, California.

Tragically, although Cornelius was 75, it appears that his death was a suicide.

He "died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head," L.A. Coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter tells PEOPLE. "Earlier this morning, paramedics had responded to his L.A. residence at the 12,600 block of Mulholland Drive. He was transported to the emergency room at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 4:56 a.m. An investigation is ongoing."

A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department said that Van Nuys police officers responded to his home at 4 am. “Mr. Cornelius was transported to the hospital where he was declared deceased," she told PEOPLE. "Our detectives are still on the scene."

Los Angeles Fire Department also confirmed that six firefighters reported to the scene.

In 1969, Cornelius used $400 of his own money to film a pilot that was supposed to be a Black version of Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. Soul Train then debuted in Chicago in 1970, and become popular enough for syndication the following year.

Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson are just a couple of the top names in R&B that were introduced on the show.

In 1987, Cornelius began the annual Soul Train Awards. The first honor went to Stevie Wonder. Don remained the host of the show until 1993, and the show remained on the air until 2006.