It was 40 years ago that John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd first debuted what would become the Blues Brothers on the SNL stage. Billed as ‘Howard Shore and his All-Bee Band,’ they were lacking the trademark black suits, fedoras, and sunglasses, instead wearing some familiar looking bee costumes. Their outfits aside, the sketch featured Aykroyd on harmonica and Belushi on lead vocals, belting out a rendition of Slim Harpo’s “I’m A King Bee,” which helped lay the groundwork for what would become two of the most popular characters in the show’s history.
Around the time of that initial performance, cast members were known to hang out at Aykroyd’s Holland Tunnel Blues Bar after hours, a place with a stocked jukebox and a handful of instruments Belushi kept down there for impromptu jam sessions. It was here that Aykroyd started developing the story that would turn into The Blues Brothers movie, as well as introduced Belushi to the blues for the first time.
In October of 1977, more than a year-and-a-half later, Belushi was in Bend, Ore., filming National Lampoon’s Animal House. Growing restless on set, he started checking out watering holes around town in search of some entertainment. It was during a visit to The Eugene Hotel when he first heard Curtis Salgado, who was playing as part of a weekly residency that was known as Blue Monday. Belushi told the Eugene Register-Guard in 1979 that the then-25-year-old had “a lot of appeal in terms of star power and charisma on stage. He had that ‘special thing,’ you know. That’s rare in performers.”