Monday, March 5, 2007

A Tribute to Brother Bluto

Hard to believe it was 25 years ago today that we lost John Belushi.  I just finished viewing the entire first season of "Saturday Night Live" on DVD, and Belushi was just getting started in year one, but he had his moments, like the classic "Samurai" skits and his spot-on Joe Cocker impersonation, not to mention the "killer bees" bits.  Chevy Chase’s departure after that first year was the best thing that could have happened to that show anyway because it opened the door for Belushi to shine and be the show’s focal point instead of the smarmy Chase.  I’ve read in more than one account that Belushi couldn’t stand Chevy (who can?), and I look forward for Season Two to come out on DVD, because that’s when John (and Dan Aykroyd) really took off.

When I first heard the news that he had died, I immediately thought of the SNL film sketch that featured Belushi playing himself as an old man 50 years in the future.  He’s walking around a snowy graveyard reminiscing about how all the other SNL cast members had preceded him in death and I thought how sadly ironic it was that he was actually the FIRST to go.  Then it also hit me that this would be the end of the Blues Brothers too, which bummed me out—I loved the way Belushi did "I Don’t Know" ("Well what did I say to piss you off this time, BAAAAAAYYYY-BAYYY?").  Sadly, the act was on the decline a bit, since they started doing old pop songs like "Gimme Some Lovin’" and "Expressway To Your Heart" instead of hardcore Blues songs like on their first album, but it was still such a huge loss.

His film career was pretty uneven, but who can forget Belushi as Bluto in Animal House?  Although he didn’t really have that many lines in the movie, John made the most of the scenes he was in and had some classic moments like, "My advice to you is to start drinking heavily…" and "They took the bar!!! The whole FUCKING BAR!!!" and his bit on the ladder spying on the sorority girls is quintessential Belushi.

He was kind of a "Joe Schmoe", but Belushi made the most of his talents and when he was on top of his game, he was as funny as anyone.  It’s a shame the drugs got a hold of him at such a young age.  Rumor has it that Robin Williams was hanging around with him earlier that fateful day in 1982—it's possible we might have lost two comic legends in almost (literally) one shot of heroin.  Drugs are bad, mmm-kay?

Long live Senator Blutarsky and Joliet Jake!

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