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The Blues Brothers

From Academic Kids

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The Blues Brothers: Dan Aykroyd (left) and the late John Belushi
The Blues Brothers is the name of a rhythm and blues band fronted, incognito, by comedians Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.

Belushi (as vocalist Jake Blues) and Aykroyd (as harpist Elwood Blues), both members of the original cast of NBC's Saturday Night Live television program, created The Blues Brothers and their alternate identities in early 1976 to warm up SNL audiences.

The Blues Brothers made their first appearance on air at SNL, with Belushi and Aykroyd dressed in the bee costumes they normally wore for the "Killer Bees" sketch, performing Slim Harpo's "I'm a King Bee." In the weeks following that performance, The Blues Brothers became a popular addition to the show and began to appear on a semi-regular basis. Part of the humour is the image of two men who are dressed in black suits looking like mob hitmen or the police ("No, ma'am, we're musicians.") suddenly exploding into energetic song and dance.

Backing Jake and Elwood were top session men like guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn, formerly of the Stax Records house band Booker T. and the M.G.s; and Matt "Guitar" Murphy.

The Blues Brothers recorded their first album, Briefcase Full of Blues, in 1978 while opening for comedian Steve Martin at Los Angeles' Universal Amphitheater. The album went platinum, and featured Top 40 hit covers of Sam and Dave's "Soul Man" and The Chips' "Rubber Biscuit." Despite the name of the act, most of the songs performed by The Blues Brothers throughout their existence were soul music or R&B classics rather than blues music.

The Blues Brothers movie

In 1980, The Blues Brothers motion picture, directed by John Landis, was released, featuring cameos by Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Cab Calloway, Gary U.S. Bonds, Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, Carrie Fisher, Frank Oz, Steven Spielberg, Joe Walsh, John Candy, and Paul Reubens playing a waiter in the Chez Paul restaurant. The motion picture is set in Chicago, Illinois and the surrounding area. Chaka Khan is credited as the lead soloist at the Triple Rock Chapel where Jake & Elwood have their revelation to re-form the band, British Model Twiggy (real name Leslie Hornby) also cameoes as a driver filling up her car being chatted up by Elwood. Charles Napier, well known from various Russ Meyers films, appears as the leader of "The Good Ol' Boys".

The famous mall chase scene was filmed in a real mall, the Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, Illinois.

The Blues Brothers also toured that year to promote the movie. Jake and Elwood released their second LP, Made in America, which included the Top 40 hits "Gimme Some Lovin'" and "Who's Making Love".

The movie revolves around the title characters, who are reunited at the beginning of the film as "Joliet" Jake is released from Joliet Prison into his brother's custody (he was imprisoned for armed robbery). Elwood immediately irritates Jake by picking him up in a former City of Mount Prospect police car, a 1974 Dodge Monaco (which replaced their Cadillac, the "Bluesmobile", which Elwood had traded for a microphone). Shortly after Jake's release, they learn that the orphanage they were raised in is to be torn down unless the back property taxes on the building can be paid within a short time. The same day, Elwood attracts the unwanted attention of the police with his reckless driving habits; he then earns their enmity by driving through a shopping mall - the actual mall, not just the parking lot - to lose them.

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The famous car chase scene on Lower Wacker Drive

The Blues Brothers spend much of the rest of the film tracking down members of the Band and convincing them to rejoin, as well as playing venues to raise the requisite $5,000. Staged and spontaneous musical numbers commence during their journey. The duo also make numerous enemies along the way, notably a neo-Nazi group (led by Henry Gibson), the Chicago Police, Illinois state troopers (One of whom is cameoed by Director John Landis himself!), a Country and Western band (led by Charles Napier, and Jake's former fiancée (Carrie Fisher) who continually tries (and fails) to kill them using various methods (including a bazooka (which famously fires more shots than it actually holds - infamous goof!)and a flamethrower). Several car chases with an extremely large number of crashes result (possibly in parody of the car chases in earlier movies such as The French Connection); the film held the record for the most cars destroyed in one film, until surpassed by its sequel.

The film effectively combines the deadpan humor of Belushi and Aykroyd as the title characters with over-the-top action and slapstick sequences, interspersed with highly-stylized musical numbers from the soul music legends in the supporting cast.

The Blues Brothers is often regarded as the best of many films adapted from Saturday Night Live sketches.

Later activity

In 1981, The Best of the Blues Brothers was released; this disc would be the first of several compliations and hits collections issued over the years.

On March 5, 1982, Belushi died in Hollywood of an accidental drug overdose.

After Belushi's death, updated versions of the Blues Brothers have performed on SNL and for charitable and political causes. Aykroyd has been accompanied by Jim Belushi and John Goodman in character as "Zee" Blues and "Mighty Mack" Blues. The copyright owners have also authorized some copycat acts to perform under the Blues Brothers name; one such act performs regularly at the Universal Studios Florida theme park in Orlando.

In 1988 Cropper, Dunn, Murphy and others re-formed The Blues Brothers Band for a world tour. They released an album of new material in 1992 entitled Red White and Blues, which included a guest appearance from Elwood Blues.

Several Blues Brothers platformer games have been made, including two Amiga/PC games by Titus. Some time during the 80s or 90s, a Blues Brothers video game was made for the NES. Reviews of the game were generally negative (http://www.somethingawful.com/articles.php?a=2747).

Aykroyd continued to be an active proponent of blues music and parlayed this avocation into foundation and partial ownership of the House of Blues franchise, an international chain of nightclubs. In character as Elwood, he also hosts the syndicated House of Blues Radio Hour.

In 1998, Blues Brothers 2000 was released to theaters. It featured John Goodman singing with Aykroyd and cameos by Blues Traveler, B.B. King, Erykah Badu, Junior Wells, Taj Mahal, Lonnie Brooks, James Brown, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Eddie Floyd, Paul Shaffer, Billy Preston, Koko Taylor, Bo Diddley, Isaac Hayes, Dr. John, Joshua Redman, Lou Rawls, Travis Tritt, Jimmie Vaughan, Wilson Pickett and many others, many of whom featured as members of the fictional band The Louisiana Gator Boys. The featured car in the new film was a Ford Crown Victoria, replacing the Dodge Monaco as the new Bluesmobile.

External links

de:The Blues Brothers fr:The Blues Brothers it:The Blues Brothers nl:The Blues Brothers sv:The Blues Brothers

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