John Landis directed the 1980 American musical comedy film The Blues Brothers. It stars John Belushi as Joliet Jake Blues and Dan Aykroyd as his brother Elwood, characters based on the NBC variety show Saturday Night Live’s frequent musical segment, The Blues Brothers. But did you know that the production had a special budget set aside for drugs?
A portion of the film “Blues Brothers” budget was set aside for cocaine purchases during night shoots.
What is The Blues Brothers Movie About?
The plot revolves around ex-convict Jake and his ‘blood brother’ Elwood, who embark on a mission from God to save the Catholic orphanage where they were raised from foreclosure.
To do so, they must rejoin their R&B band and perform to raise the $5,000 required to pay the orphanage’s property tax bill. Along the way, they are pursued by the police, a homicidal mystery woman, Nazis, and a country and western band. (Source: Smooth Radio)
Where Did the Characters of the Film Come From?
Following SNL tapings, it was customary for cast members and weekly hosts to visit Aykroyd’s Holland Tunnel Blues bar, which he had rented at the time. Aykroyd and Belushi stocked a jukebox with music, Belushi purchased an amplifier, and they kept musical instruments on hand for anyone who wanted to jam.
It was here that Aykroyd and Ron Gwynne penned and refined the story for the Blues Brothers film. Aykroyd also introduced Belushi to the blues, and the two soon found themselves singing with local blues bands. Howard Shore, the SNL bandleader, recommended they call themselves “The Blues Brothers.”
Pianist Paul Shaffer assisted Belushi and Aykroyd in assembling a group of studio musicians to establish their band. SNL band members saxophonist Blue Lou Marini, and trombonist-saxophonist Tom Malone were among them. Booker T, MG’s bassist Donald Dunn, and the guitarist Steve Cropper was also signed. (Source: Smooth Radio)
Which Singers were Featured in the Film?
Dan Aykroyd insisted that soul and R&B icons James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, and Aretha Franklin be cast in speaking roles to back songs based on them.
During production, however, this produced friction between Landis and Universal because the costs to get them on board greatly exceeded the intended budget.
Apart from Charles, none of the musicians had had recent hits. Hence the company requested the director to replace them with younger stars like Rose Royce. Big Walter Horton, Pinetop Perkins, and John Lee Hooker are among the other musicians.
The Blues Brothers Band included Booker T & the MGs’ Steve Cropper and Donald Dunn, Blood, Sweat & Tears’ horn players Lou Marini, Tom Malone, and Alan Rubin, The Bar-Kays’ drummer Willie, and blues guitarist Matt Murphy. Chaka Khan, Stephen Bishop, and Joe Walsh also made appearances. (Source: Smooth Radio)
Where Did the Filming Take Place?
In 1979, most of the film was shot in and around Chicago. The film is credited with making Chicago a popular filming location.
The automobile pursuit through the shopping mall was recorded in the Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, Illinois. The bridge jump was shot on an actual drawbridge, the 95th Street bridge on Chicago’s southeast side.
The Palace Hotel Ballroom, where the band’s final concert is held, was formerly a country club but was later renamed the South Shore Cultural Center. The Hollywood Palladium was used to film indoor concert sequences. (Source: Smooth Radio)