Officer responding to a report of a shooting found Cornelius at his Mulholland Drive home at around 4 a.m., police said.
He was pronounced dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at 4:56 a.m. at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said Los Angeles County Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter. He was 75.
"Soul Train" began in Chicago as a local program in 1970 and aired nationally from 1971 to 2006. It brought the best R&B, soul and later hip-hop acts to TV and had teenagers dance to them. It was one of the first shows to showcase African-Americans prominently, although the dance group was racially mixed. Cornelius was the first host and executive producer.
The Soul Train Awards plan to return to the air after a two-year hiatus to recognize those who helped shape R&B music.
Record executive Antonio "L.A." Reid, singers Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds, Chaka Khan and Charlie Wilson will be honored on the two-hour music special to be taped in Atlanta.
The awards are scheduled to air Nov. 29 on Centric - a new channel jointly operated by the BET and MTV Networks divisions of Viacom.
Actors Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard will co-host the awards first started by Don Cornelius, the creator of the syndicated music show "Soul Train."
The last awards show was held in 2007 in California.
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