Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train

Soul Train, Soul Train, bada, bada, bada, bada, ba, ba, ba..... you all know the song. A few weeks ago, I saw VH1's tribute to my man Don Cornelius and the show we all called Soul Train. It was no less than fantastic! I spent my youth watching Soul Train and imitating the dances. I remember checking the show out every Saturday. It was one of those things that validated black youth. Not to say that other people weren't watching Soul Train but this was a show that we identified with. Needless to say, there just weren't a whole lot of shows on at the time that were created by blacks and marketed to blacks. Do you remember the Afro Sheen products & The Blow Out Kit, the "S" Curl kit, and Sulfur 8. These were all marketed during Soul Train.

There were so many things that kept you coming back week after week. I remember the "Lockers" a dance group that had Fred Berry (ReRun from "What's Happening") and a bunch of brothers wearing Apple Hats that could get down. Now don't act like you didn't have one, I did and I still do. It is part of my winter wardrobe and I very seldom leave the house in the winter without my Apple Hat on. How about the Soul Train Scramble Board where you had to unscramble the name of the group before sixty seconds elapsed. Then there was the Soul Train Line, where everyone had to dance their way down the line doing their "thang". I think every party I went to as a youth had at least one Soul Train Line. Of Course, we can't forget, the outlandish clothing styles of the 70"s and 80"s....I know I got my cool from watching some of those styles. But all in all Soul Train was about the music and artist that were on the show. Some of them were groundbreaking....
  • Shalamar with Jodi Watley, Jeffrey Daniel, and Howard Hewitt, (they were discovered on Soul Train)
  • Al Green destroyed the crowd of ladies with one of his hit records, and yes I said record (33 1/3 RPM or 45 RPM for those that don't know). Al walked on stage and laid the ladies to rest with his pre-grits soul performance. My mother used to say Al never lets the ladies down....LOL!
  • Then I'm sure most of you forgot about the first white performer to ever be on Soul Train......before you read on just see if you can remember. What was his name......aahh I know, i know.......Gino Vannelli. That to some was a big deal but to most of us Gino was black because he sang that way. Here is one of his more famous songs he performed live in Montreal, Canada.

Soul Train will always have a place in my heart and I'm sure it will in some of yours. It provided us a small break from some of the craziness that was going on all around us. Soul Train gave us something to talk about during the week ahead and some new dance to try at the next party we went to. Thank you Don Cornelius for taking us along for the ride, for 35 years it surely was the "Hippest Trip in America".


  1. I used to love the scramble boards. but I always thought the answer was too easy. I'd figure it out in like 5 seconds. Don Cornelius was the coolest brother on TV back then.

  2. Unlike Krystal, I could never figure the scramble board! But the dancers always did in 5 seconds, so I thought that they gave them the answer beforehand LOL>

  3. OMG! LOVE that Geno Vanelli song! I used to do the scramble board with refrigerator letters! LOL! Ah, those were the days! Thanks for the flashback, my brotha!

  4. OOOOOkay, you just took me waaay back! We used to dance right along with them. I had to watch Soul Train, and American Band Stand! It was a must!

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  5. Thank you "Anonymous" for catching my mistake. Obviously you are passionate about making sure the art of Locking remains as it should a specific form of street dancing like Popping and Breaking.

    Trust that I am very familiar with the differences between the three and specifically "Campbell" Locking. I do understand that over the last 40 or so years people have forgotten about the originator of Locking and his immeasurable contribution to street dancing. Unfortunately, this post wasn't about Don Campbell but about Don Cornelius and Soul Train. Maybe I will consider writing a post in the future about street dancing and its effect on mainstream America.

    Consider this the next time you post a comment, it is very difficult to judge the tone and tenor of a comment that isn't verbalized and it might be considered offensive to some. Many blessings....

  6. I have lot of respect for your response and I thank you for seeing my passion for locking instead of it being anything else. I am sure we have mutual friends. Locking has brought me many blessings in my life and I try to protect it. All my respect to you.

    May God's will and blessing be with you.

    Sundance aka Anonymous