The Blues Brothers


"We're on a mission from God." Divine intervention -- and a superb script by Dan Akroyd and John Landis – helped make the 1980 musical comedy The Blues Brothers a beloved cult classic. Based on characters created by Saturday Night Live veterans John Belushi (“’Joliet Jake’ Blues”) and Akroyd (“Elwood Blues”), the film followed the exploits of the blues-loving brothers as they set out to “get the band back together” and save the orphanage in which they were raised. The Blues Brothers was filmed in and around Chicago, and though anchored by its two main stars, the motion picture featured a host of talent from the 1960s and 1970s, including Carrie Fisher, John Candy, Henry Gibson, and Charles Napier. The musical angle was anchored by such rhythm-and-blues and soul icons as James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and John Lee Hooker – who either had small speaking roles, performed musical numbers, or in most cases -- both. A wealth of celebrities also appeared in cameo roles including Landis (who directed the film), Steve Lawrence, Frank Oz, Stephen Spielberg, Twiggy, and Joe Walsh. The majority of the Blues Brothers Band were iconic musicians in their own right, including Steve Cropper and Donald “Duck” Dunn (both members of Booker T. & the M.G.’s), Lou Marini, Tom Malone, and Alan Rubin (each of whom played in Blood, Sweat, & Tears), Willie Hall, Matt Murphy, and Murphy Dunne.

The film featured several quotable lines and memorable scenes, including a climatic scene in which the protagonists drive their car through the Richard J. Daley Center lobby. Akroyd and Belushi, as their musical counterparts, also released the albums Briefcase Full of Blues and Made in America, as well as a soundtrack LP. Belushi’s sudden death in 1982 has made items authentically signed by both “Jake” and “Elwood” exceedingly rare. In the years since the film’s release, a large percentage of its other stars and supporting cast members – including Candy, Gibson, Napier, Calloway, Charles, Hooker, Dunn, and Rubin – have also passed away.

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