The Blues Brothers Biography
Formed in 1978, this US group was centred on comedians John Belushi (24 January 1949, Chicago, Illinois, USA, d. 5 March 1982, Los Angeles, California, USA) and Dan Aykroyd (b. 1 July 1952, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada). Renowned for contributions to the satirical National Lampoon team and television’s Saturday Night Live, the duo formed this 60s-soul-styled revue as a riposte to disco.
Assuming the epithets Joliet ‘Jake’ Blues (Belushi) and Elwood Blues (Aykroyd), they embarked on live appearances with the assistance of a crack backing group, which included Steve Cropper (guitar), Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn (bass) and Tom Scott (saxophone). Briefcase Full Of Blues topped the US charts, a success that in turn inspired the movie The Blues Brothers (1980). Although reviled by several music critics, there was no denying the refreshing enthusiasm the participants brought to R&B and the venture has since acquired a cult status.
An affectionate, if anarchic, tribute to soul and R&B, it featured cameo appearances by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker and James Brown. Belushi’s death from a drug overdose in 1982 brought the original concept to a premature end, since which time Aykroyd has continued a successful acting career. However, several of the musicians, including Cropper and Dunn, later toured and recorded as the Blues Brothers Band.
The original Blues Brothers have also inspired numerous copy-cat/tribute groups who still attract sizeable audiences, over 20 years after the movie’s release. In August 1991, interest in the concept was again boosted with a revival theatre production in London’s West End. A critically slated sequel, Blues Brothers 2000, was released in 1998, with Belushi replaced by ex-Roseanne star John Goodman.