Soul Train premiered on WCIU-TV on August 17, 1970, as a live show airing weekday afternoons. The first episode of the program featured Jerry Butler, the Chi-Lites, and the Emotions as guests. Cornelius was assisted by Clinton Ghent, a local professional dancer who appeared on early episodes before moving behind the scenes as a producer and secondary host.
Soul Train was an American music-dance television program which aired in syndication on October 2, 1971 to March 25, 2006. In its 35-year history, the show primarily featured performances by R&B, soul, dance/pop and hip hop artists, although funk, jazz, disco and gospel artists also appeared. The series was created by Don Cornelius, who also served as its first host and executive producer.
Production was suspended following the 2005–2006 season, with a rerun package (known as The Best of Soul Train) airing for two years subsequently. As a nod to Soul Train’s longevity, the show’s opening sequence during later seasons contained a claim that it was the “longest-running first-run, nationally syndicated program in American television history,” with over 1,100 episodes produced from the show’s debut through the 2005–2006 season. Despite the production hiatus, Soul Train held that superlative until 2016, when Entertainment Tonight surpassed it completing its 35th season. Among non-news programs, Wheel of Fortune will surpass it in 2018 (that show has already been renewed through that year).
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