On Wednesday, the first day of Black History Month, the world lost Don Cornelius. While we continue to celebrate his legacy, here are 10 thing NewsOne bets you didn’t know about “Soul Train.”
1) The show got off the ground in part because an ex-racist-turned-activist became one of the show’s first advertisers. George O’Hare later became an activist with Dick Gregory and volunteer for Operation Breadbasket with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
2) Dick Clark‘s “Soul Unlimited” was made to compete with “Soul Train.” Jesse Jackson and other activists and record executives, including Clarence Avant, put a stop to it.
3) Walter Payton, running back for the Chicago Bears, danced on the show.
4) Cheryl Song, the long-haired Asian dancer, later danced in videos for Rick James and Michael Jackson.
5) Dennis Coffey was the first white artist on the show.
6) When Cornelius stepped down, Steve Harvey and Cedric the Entertainer were also hosts.
7) Cornelius worked as a cab driver and police officer before starting “Soul Train.”
8) “Soul Train” dancer Louie “Ski” Carr became a dancer with New Edition and toured with them.
9) Darnell Williams, better known as “Jesse” from the soap opera “All My Children,” was a dancer on the show.
10) “Soul Train” dancer Shabba Doo tried out for the part of “Rerun” before Fred Berry got the part.
— Ericka Blount Danois is the author of the forthcoming book, tentatively titled, “Soul Train’s Mighty Ride, Behind the Scenes of America’s Favorite Dance Show,” to be published by Backbeat Books next year. You can reach her at her website: www.erickablount.com.