Don Cornelius, the creator of the legendary television dance show Soul Train, is dead after officers responded to a 911 call to his Mulholland Drive, California home at 4 a.m. this morning, ET confirms.
A coroner pronounced him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, the Associated Press reports.
Soul Train debuted in 1971 and changed the landscape of television. It was the longest-running, first-run, nationally syndicated program in television history.
Superstars that have appeared on the show include Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Chuck Berry, Sting, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston and Jamie Foxx.
"I grew up watching 'Soul Train' and I was privileged to perform on the show at the beginning of my career and on several more occasions," Whitney Houston tells ET in a statement. "He opened the door for many artists. He was a great pioneer."
"It's just so sad, stunning and downright shocking and a huge and momentous loss to the African-American community and the world at large," Aretha Franklin says about Cornelius' passing. "Don Cornelius single-handedly brought about a melding and unity of brother and sisterhood among young adults worldwide and globally with the unforgettable creation of 'Soul Train.'"
"I am shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden passing of my friend, colleague, and business partner Don Cornelius. Don was a visionary pioneer and a giant in our business," legendary record producer Quincy Jones also tells ET in a statement. "Before MTV there was 'Soul Train' -- that will be the great legacy of Don Cornelius. His contributions to television, music and our culture as a whole will never be matched."