Before you close out the week, you’ll want to spend some time with Ned Zeman’s piece in Vanity Fair, “Soul Men: The Making of The Blues Brothers.” It brings us back to the 1970s, when John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd labored to bring their characters, Jake and Elwood Blues, onto the national stage. Despite being the stars of Saturday Night Live, Belushi and Aykroyd had to cajole the show’s producer Lorne Michaels into letting them perform as The Blues Brothers on late night TV. First, Michaels let them warm up SNL audiences before shows. Then, in 1976, Michaels let the Blues Brothers make their first live appearance. But there was a rub. They had to dress as Killer Bees and not as “John Lee Hooker gone Hasidic.” Only in April, 1978, did Jake and Elwood make their true SNL debut as a musical act.
Zeman’s piece focuses mostly on the next chapter in the history of The Blues Brothers — the making of the now legendary film. That had its own set of difficulties. Big budgets, big ambitions and big coke addictions, all threatening to derail the project. Down to the very last moment, the film looked like a guaranteed financial bust, to the tune of $27 million. But, of course, that’s not how things turned out.
Above, you can watch Part 1 of The Making of The Blues Brothers, a 2005 documentary that came out with the 25th anniversary re-release of the comic masterpiece. Click the following links for Part 2 and Part 3.
John Belushi’s Improvised Screen Test for Saturday Night Live (1975)
William S. Burroughs on Saturday Night Live, 1981
Leave a Reply