The Blues Brothers
Aykroyd was good friends with John Belushi. According to Aykroyd, it was his first meeting with Belushi that helped spark their popular Blues Brothers act. When they met in a club Aykroyd frequented, Aykroyd put on a blues record to play in the background, and it stimulated a fascination with blues in Belushi, who was primarily a fan of heavy rock bands at the time. Aykroyd educated Belushi on the finer points of blues music and, with a little encouragement from then-SNL music director Paul Shaffer, it led to the creation of their Blues Brothers characters.
Backed by such experienced professional R&B sidemen as lead guitarist Steve Cropper, sax man Lou Marini, trumpeter Alan Rubin and bass guitarist Donald "Duck" Dunn, the Blues Brothers proved more than an SNL novelty. Taking off with the public as a legitimate musical act, they performed live gigs and released the hit album Briefcase Full of Blues in 1978, and were further popularized in a 1980 film. The Blues Brothers Band continues to tour today, featuring original members Cropper and Marini, along with vocalist Eddie Floyd.
Early in the incarnation of the Blues Brothers, Belushi joined the Grateful Dead on stage on April 2, 1980, for a rendition of "Good Morning Little School Girl" at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, N.J (coinciding with the Dead performing on SNL that weekend). Belushi sang the part usually carried by the late Dead band member "Pigpen."
Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles was a regular haunt for the original Blues Brothers back in the early days of the band. Belushi and Aykroyd became fixtures at the recording studio, while fellow Blues Brother Steve Cropper called Cherokee his producing home. Whenever they needed a bass player, they were joined by another Blues Brother, Donald "Duck" Dunn. During this time, Cropper along with producing partner and Cherokee owner Bruce Robb worked on a number of music projects with the two comedian/musicians, including Belushi's favourite band Fear and later Aykroyd's movie Dragnet.
Aykroyd and Belushi were scheduled to present the Academy Award for Visual Effects in 1982, but Belushi died only a few weeks prior to the ceremony. Though devastated by his friend's death, Aykroyd presented the award alone, remarking from the stage "My partner would have loved to have been here to present this, given that he was something of a visual effect himself." Not a few years before, when he and Belushi were making an appearance on the Today show, he referred to them as "kindred spirits." In the biography "Belushi", Aykroyd claims that Belushi was the only man he could ever dance with.
In 1992, Aykroyd, along with many other notable music and Hollywood personalities, founded the House of Blues. Its mission is to promote African-American cultural contributions of blues music and folk art. From 2004 until its sale to Live Nation in 2007, it was the second-largest live music promoter in the world, with seven venues and 22 amphitheaters in the United States and Canada. Aykroyd also contributes his voice to the weekly House of Blues Radio Hour, which he hosts in the character of Elwood Delaney aka Elwood Blues. This show is hosted in the United Kingdom (from 16th July 2012) on Jazz FM.
Today, the Blues Brothers still tour. Aykroyd still performs as Elwood back with Belushi's younger brother James Belushi, who plays "Brother Zee" on stage. They are almost always backed by The Sacred Hearts Band.
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