Soul Train's greatest hits finally out on DVD

Tue Sep 21, 2010 1:40pm EDT
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Soul Train" is finally pulling into the DVD station.

The new owners of the venerable television property have teamed with Time Life to release a three-disc package featuring performances by the likes of Marvin Gaye, James Brown, the Jackson 5 and Stevie Wonder.

The dance show aired from 1970 to 2006, making it the longest running U.S. series in first run syndication.

It was the brainchild of Don Cornelius, an ambitious Chicago DJ who decided in the late '60s to launch an "American Bandstand"-style show featuring young black people dancing to recorded music. Few shared his view, and he self-funded a pilot in 1969. It aired on a Chicago TV station the following year, and eventually was picked up TV stations nationwide.

Plenty of bootleg footage exists, but Cornelius was never inclined to release an official DVD package, telling Reuters in 2008 that it was acceptable to leave money on the table.

But he sold the "Soul Train" franchise two months later for an undisclosed sum to multimedia firm Madvision Entertainment. Its three principals promptly declared it to be an undervalued franchise.

The DVD package follows the release of a documentary that aired earlier this year on VH1. Plans are also underway to revive the annual Soul Train Music Awards, which ended their 22-year run in 2006 after being increasingly ignored by the African-American stars the event aimed to honor.

Cornelius, now 73, had little involvement with the DVD release, apart from sitting down for an interview that appears in the extras and fact-checking a press release.   Continued...

<p>Singer Little Richard performs a musical tribute to producer Don Cornelius creator and producer of the television music show "Soul Train" at the 3rd annual TV Land Awards in Santa Monica, California March 13, 2005. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>