This Day in ’80: The Blues Brothers opens

Wednesday, June 20, 2018
This Day in Music

38 years ago today, the cinematic adventures of Jake and Elwood Blues officially entered theaters, giving comedy fans a lot of reasons to laugh while providing music fans with at least as many classic tunes.

Directed by John Landis (National Lampoon’s Animal House), The Blues Brothers evolved from a couple of characters played by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi on Saturday Night Live, although they weren’t really sketch characters so much as they were identities adopted by the two comedians in order to perform some songs. As such, it was one hell of an evolution, since there really wasn’t anything to build from, but Aykroyd – with the help of story consultant Ron Gwynne – constructed a back story for Jake and Elwood, after which he dived headlong into a screenplay.

Years later, Aykroyd admitted that he’d never actually written a screenplay before, but he was filled to the brim with enthusiasm, which explains how he managed to produce a 324-page initial draft of The Blues Brothers. Thankfully, Landis managed to whip the screenplay into shape, although it took him the better part of two weeks to transform it into something filmable.

In regards to the music, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway, and James Brown all make appearances in the film and on the soundtrack, while the Blues Brothers themselves turn in covers of Taj Mahal’s “She Caught the Katy,” The Spencer Davis Band’s “Gimme Some Lovin’,” Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn Theme,” Solomon Burke’s “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” Robert Johnson’s “Sweet Home Chicago,” Elvis’s “Jailhouse Rock,” and the theme from “Rawhide.” It’s classic tunes from start to finish, so it’s no wonder that it proved to be a huge success that continues to sell strongly even now.

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