Tributes are pouring in to the late U.S. television host and music promoter Don Cornelius, who was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head in his Los Angeles home Wednesday.

Cornelius was the founder of the iconic Soul Train television show that helped introduce African-American music and culture to mainstream America from 1971 to 1993.

Police say the gunshot apparently was self-inflicted. It is not clear why Cornelius would have ended his life, although there have been reports in recent years that his health was failing.

The chairman of Black Entertainment Television, Robert Johnson, called Cornelius an "iconic figure" whose achievement was "nothing short of phenomenal."

"For him to bring Soul Train to television at the time he did and keep it running for so many years as one of the longest-running syndicated television shows in the history of this country is nothing short of phenomenal," noted Johnson. "Everybody I know grew up with Don Cornelius and his unique speaking style as host. We grew up with him and his dress style, the fashions that he brought to television from the Soul Train dancers and the number of talent who got exposed on Soul Train. It was literally must-see TV for everybody who was growing up in the Don Cornelius Soul Train era. He will be sorely missed, but as an iconic television producer, he will always be remembered."

Singing legend Aretha Franklin, who appeared on Soul Train, called Cornelius' death "sad, stunning and downright shocking." She called it a "huge and momentous loss."

Composer-producer Quincy Jones said he was "deeply saddened" by the loss of his friend and former business partner.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.