The Blues Brothers "Theme From Rawhide"
A Blues Brothers tribute act entertains the crowd while performing "Theme From Rawhide" at Bass Pro in Olathe, Kansas during a Pontiac Car Show a few years ago.
Albums, early gigs, character backgrounds:
The Blues Brothers recorded their first album, Briefcase Full of Blues, in 1978 while opening for comedian Steve Martin at Los Angeles' Universal Amphitheatre. The album reached #1 on the Billboard 200, went double platinum, and featured Top 40 hit recordings of Sam and Dave's "Soul Man" and The Chips' "Rubber Biscuit".
The album liner notes fleshed out the fictional back story of Jake and Elwood, having them growing up in a Roman Catholic orphanage in Rock Island, Illinois[note 2] and learning the blues from a janitor named Curtis. Their blood brotherhood was sealed by cutting their middle fingers with a string said to come from the guitar of Elmore James.
The band, along with the New Riders of the Purple Sage, opened for the Grateful Dead for the final show at Winterland, New Year's Eve 1978.
With the film, came the soundtrack album, which was the band's first studio album. "Gimme Some Lovin'" was a Top 40 hit and the band toured to promote the film, The tour began on June 27, 1980 at Poplar Creek Music Theater. The tour also led to a third album (and second live album), Made in America, recorded at the Universal Amphitheatre in 1980. The track "Who's Making Love" peaked at No 39. It was the last recording the band would make with Belushi's Jake Blues.
Belushi's wife, Judith Jacklin, and his friend, Tino Insana, wrote a book, Blues Brothers: Private, that further fleshed out the Blues Brothers' universe and gave a back story for the first movie.
In 1981, Best of the Blues Brothers was released, with a previously unreleased track, a version of The Soul Survivors' "Expressway to Your Heart", and alternate live recordings of "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" and "Rubber Biscuit"; this album would be the first of several compilations and hits collections issued over the years. A 1998 British CD compilation, The Complete Blues Brothers, exclusively featured The Lamont Cranston Band's "Excuse Moi Mon Cheri", from the L.A. Briefcase recordings, originally available only as the b-side to the "Soul Man" 45 rpm single.
On March 5, 1982, Belushi died in Hollywood of an accidental overdose of heroin and cocaine.
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" McTeer. 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, Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood.
In 1995 the Band collaborated with the Italian singer Zucchero Fornaciari, who had been invited to the event in memory of the 46th John Belushi's birthday. After a concert together, they registered the videoclip of the famous Zucchero song "Per Colpa Di Chi?" at the House of Blues. In 1997, an animated sitcom with Jake and Elwood was planned, but scrapped after only eight episodes were produced. Peter Aykroyd and Jim Belushi replaced their brothers as the voices of Elwood and Jake.
To promote Blues Brothers 2000 (1998), Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi and John Goodman performed at the Super Bowl XXXI halftime show, along with ZZ Top and James Brown. The performance was preceded with a faux news report stating the Blues Brothers had escaped custody and were on their way to the Louisiana Superdome.
Aykroyd has continued to be an active proponent of blues music and parlayed this avocation into foundation and partial ownership of the House of Blues franchise, a national chain of nightclubs. In Italy the franchise is now owned by Zucchero, who used the brand during the tour promoting his album Black Cat of 2016.
Jim Belushi toured with the band for a short time as "Zee Blues", and recorded the album Blues Brothers and Friends: Live from Chicago's House of Blues with Dan Aykroyd. Jim would later reunite with Aykroyd to record yet another album, not as the Blues Brothers but as themselves: Belushi/Aykroyd – Have Love Will Travel (Big Men-Big Music).
In 2004, the musical The Blues Brothers Revival premiered in Chicago. The story was about Elwood trying to rescue Jake from an eternity in limbo/purgatory. The musical was written and composed with approval and permission from both the John Belushi estate (including his widow, Judith Belushi-Pisano) and Dan Aykroyd.
The Blues Brothers featuring Elwood and Zee regularly perform at House of Blues venues and various casinos across North America. They are usually backed by Jim Belushi's Sacred Hearts Band. The Original Blues Brothers Band tours the world regularly. The only original members still in the band are Steve Cropper and Lou Marini. The lead singers are Bobby "Sweet Soul" Harden, Rob "The Honeydripper" Papparozi and Tommy "Pipes" McDonnel. They are occasionally joined by Eddie Floyd.
Aykroyd most recently hosted a radio show as his character Elwood Blues on the weekly House of Blues Radio Hour, heard nationwide on the Dial Global Radio Network until 2017. It has now been succeeded by The Sam T. Blues Revue which airs Wednesday nights on KHBT.