The Blues Brothers: How Fake Became a Real Sensation

This article was written by Samuel Phineas Upham

It’s hard to tell whether the Blues Brothers were a real band playing homage to styles of yesteryear, or if they were a parody band. The band began as a running gag on the popular sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, which airs on NBC. Their popularity quickly ballooned into smash-hit records and sold out concert tours. They even got their own feature film.

The band members were always seen in their usual black suits, complete with dark black wraparound sunglasses, and fedoras and ties to tie the whole look together. The band isn’t what you’d call a soul revival, but they were credited with introducing an entire generation of people to soul music that had not seen popularity since the 70s.

The story goes that a new band from the label Checker Records was playing small, funky clubs in the south side of Chicago. In reality, Jake and Elwood Blues were actually comedy actors John Belushi and Dan Akroyd.

The band itself was no joke. It had top Memphis talent like Steve Cropper and Donald “Duck” Dunn. They debuted with a live LP, “Briefcase Full of Blues,” which was recorded as the band opened for a comedy routine from Steve Martin in 1978.

Unfortunately, the wild popularity of the band was cut short when John Belushi died in 1982 of a heroin overdose. The saga ended until 1988, when the surviving members of the band re-formed and did a world tour. The new Blues Brothers included actors Jim Belushi, John’s brother, and John Goodman.

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Samuel Phineas Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Samuel Phineas Upham on his Twitter page.