The Blues Brothers

Saturday Night Live skit at January 17, 1976 was the genesis of the Blues Brothers. In it, "Howard Shore and his All-Bee Band" play the Slim Harpo song "I'm a King Bee", with Belushi singing and Aykroyd playing harmonica, dressed in the bee costumes they wore for the "Killer Bees" sketch.

Following tapings of SNL, it was popular among cast members and the weekly hosts to attend Aykroyd's Holland Tunnel Blues bar, which he had rented not long after joining the cast. Dan and John filled a jukebox with songs from many different artists such as Sam and Dave and punk band The Viletones. John bought an amplifier and they kept some musical instruments there for anyone who wanted to jam. It was here that Dan and Ron Gwynne wrote and developed the original story which Dan turned into the initial story draft of the Blues Brothers movie, better known as the "tome" because it contained so many pages.
It was also at the bar that Aykroyd introduced Belushi to the blues. An interest soon became a fascination and it wasn't long before the two began singing with local blues bands. Jokingly, SNL band leader Howard Shore suggested they call themselves "The Blues Brothers." In an April 1988 interview in the Chicago Sun-Times, Aykroyd said the Blues Brothers act borrowed from Sam & Dave and others—"Well obviously the duo thing and the dancing, but the hats came from John Lee Hooker. The suits came from the concept that when you were a jazz player in the 40's, 50's 60's, to look straight, you had to wear a suit".

The band was also modeled in part on Aykroyd's experience with the Downchild Blues Band, one of the first professional blues bands in Canada, with whom Aykroyd continues to play on occasion. Aykroyd first encountered the band in the early 1970s, at or around the time of his attendance at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada and where his initial interest in the blues developed through attending and occasionally performing at Ottawa's Le Hibou Coffee House.           

The Toronto-based Downchild Blues Band, co-founded in 1969 by two brothers, Donnie and Richard "Hock" Walsh, served as an inspiration for the two Blues Brothers characters. Aykroyd initially modeled Elwood Blues in part on Donnie Walsh, a harmonica player and guitarist, while John Belushi's Jake Blues character was modeled in part on Hock Walsh, Downchild's lead singer. In their first album as the Blues Brothers, Briefcase Full of Blues (1978), Aykroyd and Belushi featured three well-known Downchild songs closely associated with Hock Walsh's vocal style: "I've Got Everything I Need (Almost)", written by Donnie Walsh, "Shotgun Blues", co-written by Donnie and Hock Walsh, and "Flip, Flop and Fly", co-written and originally popularized by Big Joe Turner. All three songs were contained in Downchild's second album, Straight Up (1973), with "Flip, Flop and Fly" becoming the band's most successful single, in 1974.

Belushi's budding interest in the blues solidified in October 1977 when he was in Eugene, Oregon, filming National Lampoon's Animal House. He went to a local hotel to hear 25-year-old blues singer/harmonica player Curtis Salgado. After the show, Belushi and Salgado talked about the blues for hours. Belushi found Salgado's enthusiasm infectious.

With the help of pianist-arranger Paul Shaffer, Belushi and Aykroyd started assembling a collection of studio talents to form their own band. These included SNL band members, saxophonist "Blue" Lou Marini and trombonist-saxophonist Tom Malone, who had previously played in Blood, Sweat & Tears. At Shaffer's suggestion guitarist Steve Cropper and bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn, the powerhouse combo from Booker T and the M.G.'s and subsequently almost every hit out of Memphis' Stax Records during the 1960s, were signed as well.

Belushi wanted a powerful trumpet player and a hot blues guitarist, so Juilliard-trained trumpeter Alan Rubin was brought in, as was guitarist Matt Murphy, who had performed with many blues legends.

For the brothers' look, Belushi borrowed John Lee Hooker's trademark Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses and soul patch.

Their style was fresh and in many ways, different from prevailing musical trends: A very raw and "live" sound compared to the increasing use of sound synthesis and vocal-dominated music of the late 1970s and 1980s.

In 1980, The Blues Brothers movie, directed by John Landis, was released. Featuring car chases involving the Bluesmobile  and musical performances by Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker, the story is set in and around Chicago, Illinois. It is a tale of redemption for the paroled  convict  Jake Blues and his brother Elwood as they decide to take on a "mission from God" and reform their blues band in order to raise funds to save the Catholic orphanage where they grew up. Along the way, the brothers are targeted by a "mystery woman" (Carrie Fisher) and chased by the Illinois State Police, a country and western band called the Good Ol' Boys, and "Illinois Nazis". The film grossed $57 million domestically in its theatrical release, making it the 10th highest grossing movie of 1980, and grossed an additional $58 million in foreign release.  It is the second-highest grossing film based on a "Saturday Night Live" sketch  (only 1992's Wayne's World grossed more) and ninth-highest grossing musical film.

The Blues Brothers Bar
The Blues Brothers Bar was an illegal backhouse tavern operated on Wells Street in Chicago's Old Town in the 1970s and 1980s which was started by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. The Bar was across the street from The Second City theater and in back of the Earl of Old Town night club. In the DVD commentary of the film Thief (a film shot in Chicago in 1981), James Caan mentions the bar. The bar was run by a college friend whom Belushi met at College of DuPage, the friend often operated as a bouncer. As the bar was unlicensed, alcohol was bought by the purchase of 'tickets' which were then traded to the bartender for the drinks. The bar was discovered by authorities in 1982 and was forced to close shortly after.

A bar by a similar title was built in Mount Prospect, Illinois (referenced in the movie as the town where Elwood purchased the car) opened in 2007.

In Springfield, Illinois, a moderately successful establishment known as Jake & Elwood's Pizza served the area with a blues style setting and Chicago style pizza, along with a great deal of Blues Brothers memorabilia. The restaurant closed in 2003.

Here below some albums of  The Blues Brothers

Briefcase Full of Blues (1978)
Blues Brothers & Friends: Live from House of Blues
The Essentials (2003)
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