Cornelius remembered in NYC as inspiring, generous

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NEW YORK (AP) - Dozens of people are dancing in Times Square as a tribute to “Soul Train” creator Don Cornelius.

The dancers say they are recreating one of the “Soul Train lines” that were a popular feature of the music show. Dancers would line up and take turns dancing toward the camera with new moves they had invented.

Cornelius committed suicide Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Jon Quick said Soul Train inspired him to become a professional DJ.

He wore an afro wig and held up a speaker blaring disco music on Saturday as dancers bounced along Broadway near 46th Street.

Hundreds of people also paid tribute to Cornelius at a meeting in Harlem earlier in the day. They filled Al Sharpton’s headquarters to hear friends and fans recount memories of the TV pioneer.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Fans and friends including Roberta Flack paid tribute to “Soul Train” creator Don Cornelius in Harlem on Saturday, calling the producer a fearless pioneer who brought black music to television and gave hundreds of dancers and musicians their start.

“He didn’t have a great big light telling him `Go over here, don’t go over there, watch where you step, there’s a hole right there,’” Flack told the crowd. “He stepped.”

Activist Al Sharpton led the tribute as part of the weekly community meeting at the headquarters of his National Action Network. In 1974 a 19-year-old Sharpton appeared on “Soul Train” to present an award to musician James Brown.

Cornelius, 75, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Wednesday. He had suffered from health problems, a difficult divorce, and had pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor spousal battery charge in 2009.

But on Saturday fans praised Cornelius’ vision in creating, hosting and selling “Soul Train” to television stations that were originally skeptical about programming aimed at blacks. The show aired from 1971 to 2006.

Former “Soul Train” dancer Tyrone Proctor recalled how he hid in the trunk of a friend’s car to get through the gates of the studio where “Soul Train” was filmed in 1972. Cornelius liked his dance moves and let him stay, dubbing Proctor “The Bone” because he was so skinny.

“He turned us into stars,” Proctor said. Moves that “Soul Train” dancers developed spread nationwide and are now staples of music videos and pop concerts.

“Blocking, popping, ticking, waacking, punking _ when Madonna does what she does at the Super Bowl, you’ll see some of these things done there,” Proctor said. “Don Cornelius created all of this. It came out of his mind.”

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