Soul Train was created as the inner-city answer to the more established ABC series, American Bandstand. Host-executive producer Don Cornelius became as much of an icon as his counterpart, Dick Clark, but wisely shied away from doing game shows.
Here's the open to an episode from the 80's:
True story. During Soul Train's early years, American Bandstand was kept off local airwaves in my area. I'm not certain as to why, because at the time Soul Train launched in 1971, the local affiliate carrying the show was linked with CBS. Just 6 years later, that affiliate switched network affiliations to ABC, which presented the daunting prospect of Bandstand & Soul Train airing together in a powerhouse 2 hour music block. Unfortunately, that never took place. The affiliate opted to stick with Soul Train for a few more years before dropping it in favor of---wait for it----Bandstand.
As we all know, Bandstand didn't last too much longer as a Saturday staple on ABC, and ended its run on cable in the late 80's. Soul Train rolled on into the last decade, and Cornelius had retired to a off-camera role, turning over the hosting duties to actors Shemar Moore (most recently on Criminal Minds) & Dorian Gregory (ex-Charmed) before the Train was retired last year after 38 years on the air.
By the way, you might recognize actor-dancer Fred Berry (later of What's Happening!) among the dancers in the above clip. Before turning to acting, Berry was a member of the Lockers dance troupe in the 70's.