"It was a sense of urgency."
Two days after Don Cornelius' shocking suicide at age 75, his son Tony Cornelius talks for the first time about receiving a distressing phone call from his father just four hours before the latter was believed to have shot himself in the head.
Here's what he had to say.
When asked if he'd been depressed about some things, Tony, who worked with his dad for more than 15 years on Soul Train, said Cornelius was "very unhappy about some things…and his health was failing."
"My father was extremely private and unfortunately, when you're a private person, you keep things inside," Cornelius added."It's hard to imagine…how you feel. You have to be in a person's shoes really to understand. Obviously, me being extremely close to him, I could tell that he was uncomfortable. But our family could never know that he would— how uncomfortable he really was."
Reflecting on Don's pioneering achievements with Soul Train—the nationally syndicated dance show he created that helped popularize Soul and R&B during an incredible run that lasted from 1970 to 2006—Tony recalled the Soul Man not only as the epitome of cool but as the consummate TV professional.
Said Cornelius: "He's always taught me [that] it's the fine points that count, and he wanted to achieve quality. He wanted to expose the masses to a new way of looking at black-oriented television. And he just worked really hard to make that happen."
Tony added that despite the tragedy, he took comfort in the legacy his father left behind with Soul Train.
"We opened up the doors and people were extremely happy about dance, music and style," he noted. "It's a culmination. It's a legacy of things that make me smile. When I hear his voice and see the show it's wonderful," he said.
A memorial service is set for Feb. 13 in Los Angeles, though no word if it'll be open to the public.
Meanwhile per the Los Angeles Times, the L.A. Coroner's Office is continuing its investigation of Cornelius' death.
Law enforcement sources told the paper that detectives have interviewed a number of associates of the music icon and so far the evidence supports the contention that Cornelius had been distraught over recent health problems.
While they believe it's a suicide, police still plan to talk to more family members and friends in the next few days as per routine. And the probe won't officially come to an end until the coroner issues a ruling on the cause of death, which could take anywhere from a few days to several weeks.