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Cuba Gooding Sr.

I Owe My Career to Don Cornelius

2/4/2012 2:30 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

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Don Cornelius isn't getting the credit he deserves for "creating" the biggest music stars of the 70s -- at least according to Cuba Gooding Senior ... who got his big break on "Soul Train."

Long before CG Jr. was shouting, "Show me the money" -- Gooding Sr. and his group, the Main Ingredient, were singing "Everybody Plays the Fool" on "Soul Train" in '73 (below).

Gooding tells us groups like The Temptations, The Stylistics, and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes can also thank Cornelius for giving them major TV exposure. By the way, Cuba still has serious pipes (check the clip) ... and says, "What Don Cornelius decided to do was put us all on television. Regional at first, then local. Then the entire planet!"

Cornelius was found dead in his home on February 1 of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.



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