The Blues Brothers

I had always written off The Blue Brothers. The main guys in it, Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, were both very well known comedians and I had thought of the band as an extension of their routine, nothing more then a gimmick intended to further monetize on a successful comedy skit. But you know what? I was wrong. The Blues Brothers was/is a legitimate act. To think I may have passed them by if it wasn’t for my mother’s recalling seeing them live back in 1979. We were talking about The Blue Brothers movie and she mentioned that she saw them. Up until that time it didn’t even dawn on me that they were a “real” band, like with albums and stuff. It would be years later until I actually gave one of those albums a serious listen but my mom’s fond recollections of seeing them live always stuck in the back of my head.

The Blues Brothers started as a Saturday Night Live sketch. SNL was/is a popular comedy show that is aired on the US airwaves every Saturday night, hence the name. One of the features of the show is to have a popular music act perform in between the comedy skits. One particular episode in 1978 featured The Blue Brothers as the main musical act, at the time not much more then goof taken seriously. The show was a big success and a real buzz started to grow about the band. They began touring soon after and pretty much never stopped touring. The Blue Brothers have been active in one form or another since 1978. Their secret is to constantly rotate musicians in and out. While there was an initial line up after a few years the rotating began and it’s never stopped. Even the lead singers can change from show to show.

The Blues Brothers were initially founded in 1976 by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. The band itself wouldn’t come to fruition for a couple years but the two began toying with the idea early on. Dan Aykroyd, a comedian/musician from Canada was heavily involved in the blues scene there prior to moving to New York City. In fact Dan was in the Downchild Blues Band, one of the biggest names in Canadian blues to this day. John on the other hand was not familiar with the blues at all prior to meeting Dan. Like Dan he too was a musician/comedian. John was a professional rock drummer from Chicago Illinois that had also transplanted himself to New York City. At first the two started making guest appearance with local blues bands, in a way I suppose they were able to use their comedy fame to pick and choose who they wanted to play with. After doing this for a while they assembled a band and went full bore into it.

As a whole The Blues Brothers were the ultimate homage to blues. Their entire presentation was laden with elements of many other performers. Even their line up often borrowed musicians from other established acts. On many occasions they invited major names from blues/jazz world to perform with them, names like Cab Calloway and James Brown to name a couple. Through the years they have amassed quite a catalog. Admittedly I’m mainly familiar with the early ones. My favorites are their first two live albums, “Briefcase Full of Blues” and “Made in America” these were both recorded prior to the untimely death of John Belushi.

1) Briefcase Full of Blues [1978]
2) The Blues Brothers: Music from the Soundtrack [1980]
3) Made in America [1980]
4) Dancin’ Wid Da Blues Brothers [1983]
5) Everybody Needs the Blues Brothers [1988]
6) The Blues Brothers Band Live in Montreux [1990]
7) Red, White & Blues [1992]
8) Blues Brothers & Friends: Live from House of Blues [1997]
9) Blues Brothers 2000: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack [1998]

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