On this day in 1978, The Blues Brothers released their version of the song “Soul Man,” written and composed by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, and first performed by the soul duo Sam & Dave.
Earlier that year, in April, The Blues Brothers—the not-exactly-real, not-exactly-fake musical brainchild of Saturday Night Live cast members Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi—made their worldwide television debut on SNL.
That premiere (above) features the incisive drumming of Steve Jordan—he’s also on the album, Briefcase Full Of Blues. Jordan would later work with musical icons like Keith Richards, Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys, and Bob Dylan, among many others. (Read our 2010 feature with Jordan here.)
Other members of the Blues Brothers included Steve Cropper and Donald “Duck” Dunn from Booker T. And The M.G.’s; Matt “Guitar” Murphy, a former Howlin’ Wolf sideman; and Willie “Too Big” Hall of the Bay-Keys.
What many people don’t know about the comedians/soul men is that both Aykroyd and Belushi have also played drums.
Aykroyd occasionally played with the Downchild Blues Band, one of the first professional blues bands in Canada, and even (accidentally) performed onstage with Muddy Waters. As Aykroyd described it:
“[T]here was a little club in [Ottawa] called Le Hibou, which in French means ‘the owl.’ And it was run by a gentleman named Harvey Glatt, and he brought every, and I mean every blues star that you or I would ever have wanted to have seen. … I was going to Le Hibou and hearing James Cotton, Otis Spann, Pinetop Perkins, and Muddy Waters. I actually jammed behind Muddy Waters.
“S. P. Leary left the drum kit one night, and Muddy said ‘Anybody out there play drums? I don’t have a drummer.’ And I walked onstage and we started, I don’t know, ‘Little Red Rooster,’ or something. He said, ‘Keep that beat going, you make Muddy feel good.'”
Belushi, for his part, started out as a drummer and vocalist in 1965 when he formed the band, The Ravens with four of his fellow high school students. They recorded one single, “Listen to Me Now”/”Jolly Green Giant.”
In Stories Behind the Making of The Blues Brothers, a 1998 documentary, guitarist Steve Cropper said he thought Belushi had an especially keen sense of rhythm. Belushi has also very briefly played drums with punk band The Dead Boys in 1978, after drummer Johnny Blitz was stabbed in the abdomen. A benefit show was organized to help pay Blitz’s medical bills, and Belushi filled in for Blitz on the drums.
Infuse your soul this Sunday with a little soul from the comedians/musicians, and after you’re sated, read previous Sunday Sounds below.