Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Dr. Bob Prescribes The Blues Brothers

Last week’s Music History Monday post – which appeared on February 14, St. Valentine’s Day – offered up some of the very worst love songs ever written and recorded. That “worst love songs” topic grew out of an anniversary: the 30th anniversary of the U.S. opening of the movie Wayne’s World on February 14, 1992.

My brief discussion of Wayne’s World noted that to this day, it remains the highest-grossing film based on a sketch from Saturday Night Live (SNL). The second highest-grossing SNL-inspired flick was The Blues Brothers, starring John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd, which was released on June 20, 1980.

The Blues Brothers: Elwood and Jake
The Blues Brothers: Elwood (Dan Aykroyd, left, born 1952) and Jake (John Belushi, 1949-1982)

The “Blues Brothers” – Jake (Belushi) and Elwood (Aykroyd) – made their debut on April 22, 1978, when their fellow SNL cast member Garrett Morris introduced them as that evening’s musical guests. Accompanied by Paul Schaffer (born 1949) and his incredibly tight SNL house (horn) band, the “brothers” performed Soul Man (1967) by Isaac Hayes and David Porter. For our information, Elwood (Aykroyd) carries his harmonica in a briefcase, handcuffed to his wrist. The performance is linked below.

Surprisingly, as musical performers, Belushi and Aykroyd weren’t bad at all. In particular, John Belushi had a musical background: the son of Albanian immigrants growing up outside of Chicago in Wheaton, Illinois, he sang and played drums in a rock ‘n’ roll band while in high school, from 1965 to 1967. He had been singing on SNL pretty much from the beginning. His duet with Joe Cocker – singing Feelin’ Alright from season two (1976) – made me pee in my pants with joy when I first saw/heard it back then and hardly less so when I viewed it while writing this post.…

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