Aretha Franklin, a pioneer of R&B and Gospel music and who rightly earned the title of Queen of Soul, died today at her home in Detroit after a battle with pancreatic cancer, according to CNN. She was 76.
The death of Franklin signifies an end to a life that was rich and robust, as colorful and full of memorable musical art as the woman herself. For over six decades, the singer’s instantly recognizable voice stretched to the emotional stratosphere and she became a titan not only in music, but provided a soundtrack, especially in her early superstar years, for a turbulent civil rights movement that was just at its peak during the late 1960s.
What started out as a sketch on Saturday Night Live, The Blues Brothers became one of the best comedies to feature rhythm and blues musical acts. Starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as “Joliet” Jake and Elwood Blues, respectively, the 1980 film had the two characters in a tale of redemption where they embark on “a mission from God” to save from foreclosure the Catholic orphanage in which they were raised.
Unfortunately, John Belushi died in 1982, but somehow a sequel was developed and released in 1998. Despite having the creative and performing core group return, the sequel never quite lived up to expectations and turned out to be a commercial and critical failure.
However, Aykroyd is going to develop an animated series based on the two films. But it is not as bad as it sounds thanks in part to the creative team that is involved. More on the story below.
The Blues Brothers, an audacious, hilarious, over the top, high budget, quirky, zany R-Rated musical film, which showcased the exploits of one Jake and Elwood Blues, two caucasian blues musicians decked in black hats, sunglasses, and loosely fitting yet snazzy suit and tie combos, celebrates its 35th anniversary today.
The film, one of the earliest cinematic tie-ins to come from the long running comedy-variety program from Saturday Night Live (where the characters musically made their debut), remains a high octane cult favorite to legions of fans around the world to this day for many reasons: The crazy quilt plotting and pacing by director John Landis, off-the-wall characters that range from sinister country folk to Nazis that hail from Illinois (the film is set in Chicago), and the music, which is red hot blues and R&B standards sung by the likes of heavyweights of that genre like John Lee Hooker, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Cab Calloway and Ray Charles. Also of course, the performances of the lead characters, Dan Aykroyd (who co-wrote the script with Landis), and the late, great, cherubic, rough-around-the-edges king of the irreverent and brash comedy castle, John Belushi.