*It’s been seven years since Don Cornelius was found dead in his home of an apparent suicide, and the memory is still horrifically fresh for his protégé, 80s R&B star O’Bryan.
The singer behind such hits as “Gigolo” and “I’m Freaky” began sobbing uncontrollably when the subject came up during a chat on our new deep-dive podcast, “For the Record.” It was Cornelius who took O’Bryan to Capitol Records and secured his first recording contract. Four albums followed, along with charting singles “Gigolo” in ’82, as well as the cover of Stevie Wonder’s “You & I” and funk-driven declaration, “I’m Freaky,” in ’83.
Cornelius, currently the subject of BET’s limited series, “American Soul,” was discussed at length during O’Bryan’s appearance on For the Record, with much tea being spilled about the TV legend and their relationship. (More on that later!)
But, when “For the Record” host Lee Bailey asked the now 57-year-old singer to recall his reaction to Cornelius’ Feb. 1, 2012 death, not even O’Bryan was ready for the wellspring of raw emotion that the memory would unleash.
O’Bryan says he saw Cornelius as a father figure who shepherded his early years in the industry, but as the “Soul Train” founder’s health became a concern and he began to push O’Bryan and others away in later years, the crooner was suddenly unsure of where he stood in Cornelius’ eyes … until a chance encounter with mutual friend, Karyn White, put his mind at ease.
You can listen to O’Bryan spill that Karyn White tea and much more – including the sexist reason Cornelius wouldn’t sign a teenage Whitney Houston, and rumors that O’Bryan and the “Soul Train” host were secret lovers – when we post the entire O’Bryan Burnette episode of our new For the Record podcast on Wednesday, Feb. 13!
In the meantime…