Two men ‘on a mission from God’, a band with cult following, then a movie, who doesn’t know the Blues Brothers story? The truth is, how they arrived on the big screen would almost deserve a movie on its own, half a tragedy, half a comedy.

Anything Blue Review – Soul Men: The Making Of The Blues Brothers by Ned Zeman, Vanity Fair

In a well-documented article, Vanity Fair reveals how the film went from a Hollywood disaster to a worldwide success. A key element in the duo’s entente? Love, actually. The bros were soulmates to each other.

The long report a la Dumas (full of meticulous details) written  by Ned Zeman retraces the ups and downs of the Blues Brothers’ career, with their secrets and bumps as well.

But first things first: as an introduction, here is the meeting of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in the 1970s.

‘The pitch was simple: But the film The Blues Brothers became a nightmare for Universal Pictures, wildly off schedule and over budget, its fate hanging on the amount of cocaine Belushi consumed. From the 1973 meeting of two young comic geniuses in a Toronto bar through the careening, madcap production of John Landis’s 1980 movie, Ned Zeman chronicles the triumph of an obsession.’

‘It begins, as these things do, in a dark bar. The time is November 1973.

The bar, a speakeasy called the 505 Club, is in Toronto and owned by Aykroyd, a bizarro 20-year-old with webbed toes, mismatched eyes – one green, one brown – and a checkered past as a two-bit hoodlum and a seminary student.

The club opens at one A.M. because Aykroyd works nights. For the past three years, he has been performing with Second City, the famed comedy troupe based in Chicago but also flourishing in Toronto.

Aykroyd is at the 505, unwinding after a show, when a bullish 24-year-old charges through the back door. This is Belushi, wearing a white scarf, a leather jacket, and a five-point driver’s cap of the sort worn by aging cabbies. Aykroyd wonders whether his guest had somehow mistaken himself for Lee J. Cobb.

The two had met earlier in the evening, backstage at Second City. We had heard of each other, Aykroyd recalls.

‘We took one look at each other. It was love at first sight’.


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Soul Men: The Making Of The Blues Brothers by Ned Zeman (photograph by Annie Leibovitz) @Vanity Fair (Jan 2013)