FORM A LINE AND MOVE WHAT MAMA GAVE YA!
Happy birthday, Don Cornelius! As the host of the first nationally syndicated R&B focused TV show, Soul Train, for 25 years (1971-1996), he helped bring funk and soul into living rooms across the U.S. For many young, suburban white kids, Soul Train was a glimpse beyond the neat hedges of their neighborhoods into something groovier. For brothers & sisters, it was a telegraph wire for what was heating up dance floors and the soul charts. For anyone put off by the buttermilk tone of American Bandstand, here was a real alternative. He would end each episode with the swingin' parting shot, "And you can bet your last money, it's all gonna be a stone gas, honey! I'm Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul!" Mr. Cornelius turns 72 today and we offer up a few choice glimpses into the program he helmed for so very long in salute. You sir, are undeniably one suave mofo!
The "Soul Train Line" was a regular segment where the dancers took turns in the spotlight, while the others worked up a super charged atmosphere o' funk around them. Here's a particularly sweet assortment of steppers moving to Brass Construction's "Ha Cha Cha (Funktion)" in 1977.
Here's James Brown, making a Train stop in the '70s. The band is tighter than a new gasket and the whole room does as the Godfather commands and gets up on the good foot.
"In my opinion, he's the closest the music world has come to having its own messiah," says Cornelius introducing Al Green in this beyond tasty '74 clip. You try to get that soulful with what looks like a sprained arm!
Ike & Tina Turner makes it so funky you can smell it on this version of "I Want To Take You Higher" from the show.
Cornelius managed to bring on a wide variety of artists that would never make it onto a contemporary soul program, and in the process he helped expand the horizons of the genre. To wit, Japan's Yellow Magic Orchestra performing on the show in 1980.
We wrap this Eye Candy with some of the most entertaining displays of lip-syncing on record from the Jackson 5 jumpin' aboard the Soul Train in the '70s.
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