Jan 23, 2009

John Belushi was the Man

Today marks the birthday of one of my all time favorite comedians John Belushi. He was the comic of the rock & roll generation and did some legendary work that will be remembered forever. Its just a shame his career ended so soon at a young age, who knows what else he could have done to make us laugh. Here's a quick tribute to ya Bluto!!

Belushi was born in Chicago Illinois to Albanian immigrants. He started out with Chicago's Second City Comedy team doing his great parody of Joe Cocker. He performed off Broadway with Nation Lampoon Lemmings then taking over the radio show. There he worked with future SNL cast members Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Chevy Chase. There he married his friend from high school Judy Jacklin who was an associate producer of the Radio Hour. They stayed together until his death. He met his best friend Dan Aykroyd in Toronto & the two hit it off immediately. Belushi was known to be very generous to his friends, lending out money & finding people work.

In 1975 Belushi was a member of the original cast of the ground breaking show Saturday Night Live which opened the doo
r for late night television & cutting edge comedy. Belushi was great in roles like the Samurai character, Pete at the Olympia Diner in the cheese burger cheese burger skits, the Killer Bees, Larry Farber of the Farber couple with the wife Gilda Radner,
Lowell Brock, from the H&L Brock commercials, a cone head character, Matt Cooper, from the Land Shark sketches, The Thing that Would Not Leave, and of course Joliet Jake Blues of the the Blues Brothers. He also did an editorial on Weekend Update where he would rant & rave how things should be & yell at Jane Curtain screaming his signature "But Nooooooooooooooo".
Belushi often played comically intense, volatile, obnoxious and sloppy characters, and was known for his expressive eyes and the raised one eyebrow.

Other great characters Belushi played on SNL were: Babe Ruth, Elvis, Roy Orbison, Liz Taylor, Robert Blake, Sun Yun Moon, Yasir Arafat, Captain Kirk, the Hulk, Beethoven, Marlon Brando, Ed Asner, FDR & my favorite Joe Cocker.
In between seasons of SNL Belushi played Bluto a drunken degenerate college kid in the movie Animal House. He became a legend, and the movie one of the funniest movies of all time that defined a generation. Originally Aykroyd , Chase & Bill Murray were to be in the movie but all turned it down. Belushi's legendary scenes here include the Toga Party chant, the food fight, and his signature food eating grotesqueness.

In 1978 the sketch of the Killer Bees led to the Blues Brothers. Aykroyd who loved the blues rented a bar in midtown filled the juke box with old blues songs 7 turned Belushi on to the music. Belushi became obsessed & the two began to perform. It led to hit songs "Soul Man" & "Rubber Biscuit" and the album ' Briefcase Full of Blues" which went to #1. The band opened for Steve Martin on his comedy tour & they opened for the Grateful Dead on New Years Eve 1978 at the closing of Winterland. The Blues Brother s movie was a smash, released in 1980, and it featured the legendary Bluesmobile car chase. The film grossed $57 million & is the 9th highest grossing music film of all time.

On his 30th birthday he was in the top rated late night TV show, had the #1 album in America with the Blues Brothers & the #1 movie in America -Animal House.


John left SNL in 1979 to pursue a film career. He starred in four more movies overall in his career (three of them with Aykroyd ) Animal House, Blues Brothers, 1941, & Neighbors.

John was known to use drugs like cocaine often & drink heavily. He would often show up at friends homes late at night and look for food & never leave. His partying caught up to him in the end as he was way beyond control. On March 5, 1982, Belushi was found dead in Hollywood at his room of the Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard. The cause of death was a speed ball, an injection of cocaine and heroin. On the night of his death, he was visited separately by friends Robin Williams and Robert De Niro. Both were not present when Belushi died. Two months later Cathy Smith a former groupie for The Band, admitted she had been with Belushi and had given him the fatal speed ball shot. Smith served a 10 month prison term.

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