What a kick in the nuts, today we lost Soul Sister Number One as Aretha Franklin has died after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was one of the finest singers to ever walk this Earth and the world of music will be a little darker without her bright flame.
I was brought up on real R n’ B music, soul and the like. I still remember Sunday mornings as a kid when Mom would make us do housework before Nan and Granddad would visit for dinner. Mom would always put some music on while we polished, vacuumed and washed. Songs from people like Sam and Dave, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke and of course Aretha Franklin would fill my ears and turn me into the fan of proper blues, soul and Motown that I am today.
But there was another element that turned me into the fan of what I like to call “real music”, a film and one of my all time favorite films ever, a musical film and a film Aretha was a part of herself – The Blues Brothers. The loss of The Queen of Soul today has got me thinking about the amazing talent involved in The Blues Brothers and how many of them we have lost over the years. So here, I’d like to pay my R-E-S-P-E-C-T to the stars of The Blues Brothers and even its sequel. Yeah I’ll throw in Blues Brothers 2000 as whether you liked the film or not, one can not deny it had some stunning people in it who are sadly no longer with us. This is for all those, in memorandum for all they have given us over the years.
Walter Horton 1921 – 1981
“Big” Walter Horton appeared in the first film alongside John Lee Hooker on the street as they performed Boom Boom together.
John Belushi 1949 – 1982
One of the originators of the whole Blues Brothers craze, along with Dan Aykroyd. The duo created a phenomenon that has lasted decades and still attracts new fans to this day.
Cab Calloway 1907 – 1994
The oldest member of the family, he was born when the 1900s were till new. Cab provided one of the best scenes in the original film when he belted out Minne the Moocher.
John Candy 1950 – 1994
His role as parole officer Burton Mercer in The Blues Brothers was one of his first movie acting roles after a successful career in TV.
Junior Wells 1934 – 1998
Wells made a small cameo in Blues Brothers 2000 as one of the band members during the Cheaper to Keep Her song.
Grover Washington Jr 1943 – 1999
Grover was a part of the ensemble group, The Louisiana Gator Boys from Blues Brothers 2000 where he was joined by several other musical legends.
Bobby Sheehan 1968 – 1999
Not just appearing in the sequel but also a founding member of the band Blues Traveler who feature in the film.
George Sperdakos 1931 – 2000
A character actor known for small roles in numerous films. He played a priest in Blues Brothers 2000.
Kathleen Freeman 1919 – 2001
Kathleen played Sister Mary Stigmata A.K.A The Penguin, the vicious nun Jake and Elwood have to visit in the first film and she returned for the sequel too.
Esther Ridgeway 1959- 2003
She was one of the entourage of friends that accompanied and joined in with Aretha Franklin as she sang Respect in the car dealership in Blues Brothers 2000.
Jeff Morris 1934 – 2004
Jeff played Bob of Bob’s Country Bunker where the boys did their Country & Western gig in the first film. He also returned for the sequel to reprise his role.
Ray Charles 1930 – 2004
Of course this man doesn’t need an introduction, its Ray Charles. He played (imaginatively) Ray of Rays’s Musical Exchange where Jake and Elwood get their instruments from in the first film.
Gracie Ridgeway 1957 – 2006
Along with her sister Esther, she was also part of the entourage that sang Respect with Aretha Franklin in the sequel.
Wilson Pickett 1941 – 2006
Wilson appeared in Blues Brothers 2000 playing the character Mr Picket at the “phone company” where he sang 634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.).
James Brown 1933 – 2006
The hardest working man in show business, The Godfather of Soul. He played Reverend Cleophus James in both films.
Billy Preston 1946 – 2006
Another one of the Louisiana Gator Boys supergroup that popped up in Blues Brothers 2000.
Lou Rawls 1933 – 2006
And yet again, one of the Louisiana Gator Boys from the sequel.
Bo Diddley 1928 – 2008
Yes he was another one of them Louisiana Gator Boys. That band had some serious talent in it eh?
Isaac Hayes 1942 – 2008
Guess what? Aside from recording the greatest song ever with Shaft. Yes Isaac was also a Louisiana Gator Boy in Blues Brothers 2000.
Wally High 1938 – 2008
Played one of the Russian thugs chasing after Elwood in Blues Brothers 2000.
Koko Taylor 1928 – 2009
A female in the Louisiana Gator Boys band from the sequel and known for he powerful blues singing voice.
Henry Gibson 1963 – 2009
A brilliant character actor who you would find popping up in a lot of comedy films of the 80s – one of which was The Blues Brothers where he played the leader of the Illinois Nazis.
Alan Rubin 1943 -2011
Known as Mr. Fabulous, Rubin was one of the members of The Blues Brothers band appearing in both films as the trumpet player.
Clarence Clemons 1942 – 2011
Along with the many others, Clemons was part of the Louisiana Gator Boys from Blues Brothers 2000.
Charles Napier 1936 – 2011
Played Tucker McElroy, lead singer and driver of the Winnebago for The Good Ole Boys Band in the first film. He was another one of those great character actors you’d see in many films.
John Lee Hooker 1942 – 2001
One of the best blues musicians ever, he appeared in the first film singing Boom Boom on the street.
Pinetop Perkins 1913 – 2011
Along with John Lee Hooker, he was also on the street performing Boom Boom in the first film.
Donald “Duck” Dunn 1941 -2012
Another member of The Blues Brothers Band. “Duck” was the bass player as uttered some of the best lines in both of the films. “We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline.”
B.B. King 1925 – 2015
Played Malvern Gasperone who sells Elwood the police car that would become the new Bluesmobile in Blues Brothers 2000…he also became one of the Louisiana Gator Boys later in the film. As well as bring one of the most recognised blues musicians ever.
Carrie Fisher 1956 – 2016
She played Jake’s stalker/ex-girlfriend in the first film hellbent on trying to kill Jake and his brother Elwood because she was stood up at the alter by Jake.
Matt “Guitar” Murphy 1929 – 2018
The lead guitarist of The Blues Brothers band and married to Aretha Franklin’s character in both films.
Aretha Franklin 1942 – 2018
Which all brings me to the latest loss in The Blues Brothers family. A force to be reckoned with as the strong willed wife of Matt “Guitar” Murphy. She had two great performances in both films singing Think in The Blues Brothers and Respect in Blues Brothers 2000.
She will be missed, one of the very finest singers ever with a career that spanned six decades. I’ll Say A Little Prayer For You..
Don’t say Aretha is making a comeback, because I’ve never been away!