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The Blues Brothers

An Epic Friendship, the Rise of Improv, and the Making of an American Film Classic
  • Author
    • Daniel de Visé
Regular price £25.00
Regular price Sale price £25.00

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The Blues Brothers hit theatres on June 20, 1980. Their scripted mission was to save a local Chicago orphanage; but Aykroyd, who conceived and wrote much of the film, had a greater mission: to honour the then-seemingly forgotten tradition of rhythm and blues, some of whose greatest artists - Aretha Franklin, James Brown, John Lee Hooker, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles - made the film as unforgettable as its wild car chases. Much delayed and vastly over budget, beset by mercurial and oft drugged-out stars, The Blues Brothers opened to outraged reviews. However, in the 44 years since it has been acknowledged a classic: inducted into the National Film Registry for its cultural significance, even declared a 'Catholic classic' by the Church itself, and re-aired thousands of times on television to huge worldwide audiences. It is, undeniably, one of the most significant films of the 20th century.

The saga behind The Blues Brothers, as Daniel de Visé reveals, is epic, encompassing the colourful childhoods of Belushi and Aykroyd; the comedic revolution sparked by Harvard's Lampoon and Chicago's Second City; the birth and anecdote-rich, drug-filled early years of Saturday Night Live, where the Blues Brothers were born as an act amidst turmoil and rivalry; and, of course, the indelible behind-the-scenes narrative of how the film was made, scene by memorable scene. Based on original research and dozens of interviews probing the memories of principals from director John Landis and producer Bob Weiss to Aykroyd himself, The Blues Brothers illuminates an American masterpiece while vividly portraying the creative geniuses behind modern comedy.
  • Published: Mar 28 2024
  • Pages: 400
  • 236 x 154mm
  • ISBN: 9781399621861
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Press Reviews

  • Kirkus Reviews, starred review
    Exhaustively researched, highly informative. . . . Gleaned from primary research and interviews with Aykroyd and director John Landis, among others, the narrative details the relationship between Belushi and Aykroyd, the sincerity with which they immersed themselves in the blues to live out their fantasies of fronting a great band, and how they overcame accusations of cultural appropriation to revive and amplify the careers of talents such as James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Cab Calloway. The book is also the definitive scene-by-scene account of a film-ambitious and over budget, panned by most critics of the day-that endures as a well-written and -directed comedy doubling as a loving homage to a uniquely American genre and its capital city. . . . A complete portrait of a classic film and the zeitgeist of its era.
  • Judy Belushi Pisano
    Daniel de Visé has done a remarkable job of pulling together a credible telling of a complicated story. The Blues Brothers: An Epic a riveting examination of this remarkable band, its compelling characters and the music they cherish. Equally importantly, Dan seems to have managed to embrace the humor, humanity, love and tragedy that makes the story of the Blues Brothers a worthwhile tale
  • Josh Karp, author of A Futile and Stupid Gesture: How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever
    Daniel de Visé has brought the iconic comedy friendship between Belushi and Aykroyd brilliantly to life in this thoroughly researched, beautifully written book about one of the funniest movies ever made. I loved every page
  • Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, New York Times bestselling author of Seinfeldia and So Fetch
    This thorough account of the Blues Brothers' origin story is as fun and riveting as the comedy classic itself. From the act's beginnings in the raucous early days of Saturday Night Live to Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi's serious love for the blues and each other, Daniel de Visé chronicles this unique chapter in film history like a virtuoso
  • Nick de Semlyen, author of Wild and Crazy Guys: How the Comedy Mavericks of the '80s Changed Hollywood Forever
    Aykroyd and Belushi's singing, dancing, car-crashing mission from God came about because of their ferocious devotion to the blues. That same passion flows through Daniel de Visé's riveting, meticulously detailed book, in which the creation of one of Hollywood's most wonderful oddities is chronicled like never before. A worthy tribute to a raucous masterpiece - and as flavoursome as four fried chickens and a Coke
  • Kirkus Reviews, starred review
    An award-winning journalist chronicles the story of the iconic 1980 film and the bond between its two stars . . . Exhaustively researched, highly informative . . . A complete portrait of a classic film and the zeitgeist of its era
  • DBC Pierre

    Here is the true story of a human sunflare. In case we forget that we're as organic as the sun, that blazes of naked spirit once rose wherever the mysteries of nature and chance threw humans together whose madness, passion, conflict and love could combust in real life - till everyone was lit and became a part of the dazzle. This is how it works. This is how we burn. This book is on a mission from God.
  • The Independent
    A must-read for fans of a cinema classic
  • Empire
    An impeccably researched, clear-headed, highly entertaining book
  • Big Issue
    An exhaustive, illuminating, funny, tragic and propulsive account of the Blues Brothers' ascent into pop culture immortality ... tremendous, riveting detail
  • Ed Potton

    The Times
    Droll and rigorous . . . bracingly thorough
  • Washington Post
    This is a well-researched book. Better, it's a well-told story, one that rarely loses it focus on the larger picture - the many forces that came together to create comedy by the baby boom generation for the baby boom generation - while engaging the reader in a close-up view of two very different, very funny men
  • Wall Street Journal
    Mr. de Vise's book...races along on a whoosh of marvelous details and crackling anecdotes
  • Charlie Campbell

    Literary Review
    This absolute blast of a book ... full of incredible research and fascinating details ... One of this book's many strengths is the portrayal of the friendship and dynamic between the two stars
  • Sunday Business Post
    Enjoyably rollicking, in-depth analysis
  • Bill O'Reilly, news commentator and author of Killing the Witches
    It was a good book. Whipped through
  • Publishers Weekly
    [A] boisterous romp . . . A loving ode to a comedy classic
  • Chicago Tribune
    [De Visé] has compiled the definitive one-stop history of the Blues Brothers band, the film and a touching dual biography of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd
  • Irish Independent
    Dan de Visé explores in great depth the relationships and circumstances that led to the film's creation, and its sombre aftermath. . . . a definitive account of The Blues Brothers' creation
  • The Globe and Mail (Canada)
    Offers a completist's account of the genesis of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi's act and the drug-fuelled comedy world and culture out of which it emerged. It's also the most detailed biography yet of the pair's quieter, brainier half, Aykroyd.
  • Library Journal
    Takes readers into the chaos of the making of the film and its aftermath. The narrative becomes even more riveting as filming of The Blues Brothers kicks off, and it's also more tragic as it shows the steady decline that ultimately led to Belushi's tragic death in 1982. Will be popular with fans of pop culture and aficionados of film and TV history, as it not only covers the creation of The Blues Brothers but also serves as a dual biography of Aykroyd and Belushi
  • Irish Times
    [A] diverting celebration
  • Allmusic
    Goes to phenomenal lengths to detail not just the making of the Blues Brothers film (which is a bonkers story in and of itself), but goes back to the beginning, detailing the upbringings of the two actors, their explorations into a burgeoning comedy scene, their rise at SNL, and all the blues that's fit to print.
  • Washington Independent Review of Books
    [A] a superb social history of the 1970s in America, where political turmoil reigned, the counterculture clawed its way into the mainstream, and edgy comedians began to replace rock stars as some of the decade's most interesting commentators and figures
  • Buzz Magazine
    Daniel De Visé has done this wonderful and raucous film truly proud with a fascinating account. . . . [T]he definitive telling of the making of The Blues Brothers
  • Bookreporter
    A pleasure to behold. . . . As much fun as this book is, it's like watching Titanic. You're enjoying it so much that you almost forget about the tragic ending
  • Winnipeg Free Press
    Entertaining . . . There's lots of fun celebrity gossip in The Blues Brothers... that provide a bittersweet undertone to this memoir
  • Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm
    With the feel of a class reunion or like paging through your high school annual, this book will very much appeal to readers who can still quote the movie or sing its songs. Start The Blues Brothers, and you'll be hooked
  • Jazz Journal
    Authentic as well as meticulously researched... an eminently readable story of how a paper-thin spin-off from a cult TV show has endured so long. Highly recommended.