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30 years later and 'Blues Brothers' still on a mission from God



The Blues Brothers"It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses." Technically, 106 miles from Chicago would have the Palace Hotel Ballroom and our beloved Jake and Elwood Brothers in Wisconsin, and far, far away from the wrath of any Illinois state troopers or Nazis. 

But let's face it: the epic 1980 flick Blues Brothers isn't about the facts. It's about the fun and fury. And in a year where we've already marked a number of memorable anniversaries (Back to the Future is up next!), June 20 marked the official 30th birthday of the John Belushi/Dan Aykroyd classic.


THE KING BEES: The Blues Brothers started as a Saturday Night Live sketch before it became a movie.  Belushi and Aykroyd performed I'm a King Bee in the bee costumes during a 1976 show. In 1978, the Blues Brothers were the "musical guest" during an episode. The guest host for that show? Carrie Fisher, who played Belushi's love interest in the film.

GREAT COSTUME DISCIPLINE: Elwood (Ayrkoyd) never takes his sunglasses off in the film. Jake (Belushi) never takes off his hat. However, in DVD and cable TV versions of the movie, a scene is added where Elwood removes his sunglasses when tells his boss that he needs to quit because he wishes to become a priest.

SOME BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS: A scene in which the entire Blues Brothers band appears in a sauna, clad in towels, is an homage to the 1973 Blood Sweat & Tears album cover for No Sweat, in which the BST band appears in a sauna in identical pose. Two BST members, Lou Marini and Tom Malone, performed with the Blues Brothers, so they appear in both sauna scenes.

SWEET HOME CHICAGO: Even though the Blues Brothers was a cinematic love letter to the city of Chicago, the filmmakers had to fight to get permission to film there. According to the Chicago Tribune, longtime mayor Richard Daley was infamous for cooperating with prospective filmmakers "because he feared Hollywood would only exploit Chicago's gangland history." Belushi had to make an in-person appeal to then-mayor Jane Byrne to secure the city's cooperation. She agreed after Belushi promised the studio would donate money to local orphanages in lieu of throwing a big premiere.

THE BLUESMOBILE: The "Bluesmobile" is a 1974 Dodge Monaco. The vehicles used in the movie were indeedused police cars purchased from the California Highway Patrol and mocked up to look like Mt. Prospect, Illinois patrol cars. A total of 12 Bluesmobiles were used in the movie. Fans of the movie are always on the lookout for one of those original cars. One rumor has it that Aykroyd's brother-in-law owns one. One fan website,, says a college buddy of Belushi's owns another.

Sources:, Chicago Tribune,

[Last modified: Monday, June 28, 2010 12:08pm]


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