From 1971 until its final broadcast in 2006, Soul Train welcomed the top soul, R&B and hip-hop stars from each generation.
From Marvin Gaye to Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder to Michael Jackson, LL Cool J to Mariah Carey, the US television show was a crucial showcase for the biggest stars of the day for almost four decades.
To coincide with the publication of book about the show by The Roots’ drummer Questlove, we invited Tayo – former Fabric mixer, Arsenal podcast presenter and nailed-on Soul Train fanatic – to pick his favourite moments from the greatest show on earth.
David Bowie performs ‘Fame’
Not many white performers appeared on the Soul Train stage, but then not many white performers were as cool as Bowie. My favourite bit is when a bemused Don Cornelius calls him “Uh David Boo-wie” in his introduction.
New Edition sing ‘Candy Girl’
Bobby Brown and the boys get down in white sequinned shirts and synchronised dancing with possibly the world’s tallest man dancing behind in gold pantaloons. I will never tire of watching this.
The Soul Train Line gets down to Kool & The Gang
The famous Soul Train line dance to ‘Jungle Boogie’. I want all the clothes on all the bros in this video. Funky doesn’t even do this clip justice.
The Soul Train Line dances to ‘Love Train’
Everyone knows that fat people are the best dancers. I often wish that the dude at 1:08 was my cousin, plus the guy at 1:54 is a dead ringer for Sol Campbell. Dancing to The O’Jays, this is my favourite example of the Soul Train line in action.
Richard Pryor presents Soul Train
It would have to be someone special to outshine host Don Cornelius, and the funniest man in America gave it a good shot when he guest presented in 1975, doing a stand-up routine (clean, of course) and this interview with Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes.
Cameo camp their way through ‘Single Life’
I wish I had seen Cameo live in their pomp. Larry Blackmon was an accidental comedian and frontman of one of the funkiest, and campest bands ever.
Run-D.M.C. perform ‘Hit & Run’
In case you forgot or never knew how powerful and exciting Run-D.M.C. were when they broke through, this video should remind you. Note how uncomfortable Don Cornelius looks in the interview afterwards – I’m not sure he got into this rap game too much.
Rick James vs. Don Cornelius
“I say, Ricky,” offers Don Cornelius, “You have a lot of energy.” The permanently high Rick James fires back immediately: “It’s all the vitamin E I’m taking.” And the rest. I watch this clip twice a day. Comedy gold from one of my all-time favourite soul stars.