Saturday, March 5, 2016

A John Belushi Tribute

(1949 - March 5 1982)

 Still remember that day i heard that John Belushi just died. Animal House and Blues Brothers were incredible entertaining movies and Neighbors still with Dan Aykroyd was just released in France. This guy was too fun and exciting. Much more than Lorne Michael's Saturday Night Live he was the symbol of a a new and wild American comedy...

with Dan Aykroys 1975 SNL rehearsals
In the first three shows, John was the opening scene of the first show and I don’t think he had a good scene again for three shows. Something that made a break of sorts was the third or fourth bee scene, when he went off on “I hate being a bee” and this whole “bee” thing, and he had his antennae swinging around his head in some special way. It was really the first time he got to show his personality and show that there was more to him, and he got a great response. But it took a while. It was slow to grow. (Judith Belushi) 
SNL Samurai Futaba
I wrote all the Samurais with the exception of one. Belushi auditioned for the show with the Samurai character. On the Richard Pryor show, Tom Schiller wrote a piece called “Samurai Hotel,” about a two-minute piece or so, and that was that. That was like the seventh show we ever did. The eleventh show we ever did, Buck Henry was hosting. Lorne came by my desk and said, “You used to work in a deli, didn’t you?” I said, “You name it, I sliced it.” Lorne said, “You would be perfect to write ‘Samurai Delicatessen.’ ” I said sure. I had no idea what he was talking about. But I wrote “Samurai Deli” and all the other Samurais after that. What started as that one two-minute sketch ended up being a franchise. When I say I wrote all the Samurais, what does that mean? It means I wrote all the stuff for Buck Henry or whoever did it that week and then I go, “John throws up a tomato and slices it,” and “John indicates in his gibberish whatever,” you know. I wrote no dialogue for John. The only time I wrote anything that looked like dialogue for him was when I had to indicate what the gibberish was meant to convey. (Alan Zweibel)

with Dan Aykroyd SNL the Untouchables
At first I stayed at Belushi’s house living with him and his wife, sleeping at the foot of their bed, having their cats attack me. I lived there for two months. Finally finally i said, “I gotta get out of here.” John loved having me there, and Judy was very sweet. But I met a guy who worked in the graphics department at NBC, and we had a loft downtown for a while. Had some great parties there. (Dan Aykroyd)
with Dan Aykroyd on The Blues Brothers
 There was no point in warning the host. They had too much anxiety anyway. They’d run to the next sketch going, “What happened? What happened to my sketch?” He would come out of nowhere, off his deathbed and he was on his deathbed a couple times a year. And, you know, it was, “He’s been doing the Blues Brothers all week and he just came back from rehearsal last night and he hasn’t slept.” He had the Dr. Feelgood guys there giving him shots and stuff. It was delightful. (Bill Murray)
with Carrie Fisher on The Blues Brothers
 When Carrie Fisher did the show, we used the Blues Brothers to warm up the audience, but we had played a couple of times prior to that. We played with Willie Nelson as our backup band, and Mickey Raphael on harp, and Willie Hall, and then the Uniforms at the Lone Star, and then we had Duke Robillard and Roomful of Blues playing behind us as well. We wanted Duke to be our backup man, but he was with Roomful of Blues, and I think he felt that Belushi would dominate, so he kind of backed off that gig. 
And we ended up recruiting through Tom Malone, the horn player in the SNL band; we ended up getting Steve Cropper and Donald Dunn, and Lou Marini and Alan Rubin and Matt Murphy. Matt Murphy we found in a bar on Columbus Avenue, and we heard him play. He was playing with James Cotton, and we said, “We want this guy in the band.” And then Cropper and Dunn, they had to be convinced, because they weren’t sure that we could acquit ourselves to the music. But they saw the respect, the reverence we had, and that we wanted to do a Memphis-Chicago fusion band—which ultimately the Blues Brothers turned out to be, doing Chicago electrified blues, and Memphis Stax R&B, and that was our set. They came on, and we did the first appearances with Carrie Fisher and then with Steve Martin. (Dan Aykroyd)
with Gilda Radner

with Gilda Radner

Gilda Radner was best in sketches where Belushi threw her around. In the “Saturday Night” scrapbook, a collection of scripts and memorabilia published early in the third season, there was a note to John signed by Gilda that read, “In loving memory of John Belushi, who can hit me without hurting me and who can hurt me without hitting me.”
as Wild Bill Keslo

1941 Steven Spielberg finding Wild Bill's damages...
There is more verbal wit in comedy today, with the exception of Belushi, who i think is the most visually prone actor-comedian working in film and theater. I think he's amazing. There isn't anyone like him. Or comes close. (Steven Spielberg)
Filming 1941

Dan Aykroyd, Treat Williams, John Candy & a young Mickey Rourke
Steven Spielberg on the set
Steven Spielberg with Legends Toshiro Mifune & Christopher Lee



    "Neighbors" (1981)
    "Steve Martin's Best Show Ever" (1981)
    "Continental Divide" (1981)
    "The Blues Brothers" (1980)
    "1941" (1979)
    "Saturday Night Live" (83 episodes, 1975-1979)
    "Old Boyfriends" (1979)
    "Goin' South" (1978)
    "National Lampoon Animal House" (1978)
    "The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash" (1978)
    "Things We Did Last Summer" (1977)
    "Tarzoon: Shame of the Jungle" (1975)
    "National Lampoon Lemmings" (1973)


    "The Best of Dan Aykroyd" (1986)
    "The Best of John Belushi" (1985)
    "Saturday Night Live" (1976-1977)
    "The Beach Boys Special" (1976)
    "Lemmings" (1973)

Interviews from the book "Live from New York" by James Andrew Miller

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