The son of Soul Train creator Don Cornelius revealed on Thursday that his father called him shortly before he committed suicide, saying he was very unhappy and that his health was failing.
Don Cornelius' death at 75 has shocked both Soul Train fans and the hundreds of musicians who appeared on his iconic 1970s music and dance TV show.
'It was a call of urgency'
The day Don Cornelius shot himself in the head in his Los Angeles home, he made an early call to his son, Tony.
It was a call of urgency, Cornelius told CBS This Morning. I came to his home immediately.
He had been very unhappy about some things that had gone on in his life, the Soul Train creator's son continued. And his health was failing.
'My father was extremely private'
Tragically, however, none of his family realized the extent of Cornelius' depression until after his death.
My father was extremely private, and unfortunately, when you're a private person, you keep things inside, Tony Cornelius said.
Even Tony, who considered himself extremely close to his father, Don, didn't see just how much he was suffering.
I could tell he was uncomfortable, Cornelius said. But our family could never know that he would--how uncomfortable he really was.
Cornelius Family Issues Statement
Tony Cornelius has issued a statement on his father's death, thanking Soul Train fans for their support and asking everyone to respect the family's need for privacy.
At this time, we respectfully ask that you allow our family and friends the privacy necessary to get through this difficult time.
We thank all the well-wishers and the fans who have supported the Soul Train legacy, the statement ended. Love, Peace and Soul.
'It's a heartbreak'
A spokeswoman for the family told reporters that a memorial service would be held for Don Cornelius on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles, Calif. It is still unclear whether this service will be public or private.
Don Cornelius will forever be known as the man who helped introduce American to black pop culture. Soul Train began in 1970 in Chicago and ran until 2006.
The program helped propel the careers of artists like Aretha Franklin, James Brown and The Jackson Five.
It's a heartbreak to the music world, to the television world, and it is a heartbreak to me personally, Stevie Wonder said in a statement to Rolling Stone.
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.