Don Cornelius Remembered by Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle & More

UPDATED 02/01/2012 at 02:00 PM EST Originally published 02/01/2012 at 12:55 PM EST

Don Cornelius, Soul Train Creator: Music Legends Pay Tribute
Aretha Franklin and Don Cornelius
Getty
Soul Train fans and music legends alike mourned the loss of the show's creator, Don Cornelius, on Wednesday.

"It's just so sad, stunning and downright shocking ... a huge and momentous loss to the African-American community and the world at large," the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, said in a statement.

"Don Cornelius single handedly brought about a melding and unity of brother and sisterhood among young adults worldwide and globally with the unforgettable creation of Soul Train."

Legendary singer Patti LaBelle called Cornelius, "simply a genius, and the contributions he made to music and our culture are second to none. I will always treasure the fond memories I have of working with Don over the years and being part of the history that he created through Soul Train.



"He will truly be missed and my heart and prayers go out to his family," added LaBelle in her statement.

Jackie, Tito and Marlon Jackson issued a statement of their own, deeming Cornelius "a transformative figure in music and television. Behind his baritone and graciousness lurked a revolutionary who completely changed the way black performers were included on broadcast TV."

"We owe a tremendous debt to Don, and our prayers are with his family. We will never forget him."

"It's a heartbreak to the music world, to the television world and it is a heartbreak to me personally," adds Stevie Wonder. "That's why we have to always reach out to friends and put our best love forward. God bless his family and God bless his soul."

Cornelius was found dead Wednesday morning in his California home at age 75. His death was the result of "an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head," L.A. Coroner Assistant Chief Ed Winter told PEOPLE. "An investigation is ongoing."

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