12/16/09 - bees to blues brothers

In today's excerpt - because John Belushi of Saturday Night Live hated the costume he has to wear to play one of his most popular characters—a bee the box-office, phenomenon The Blues Brothers are born. As recounted by Saturday Night Live musical director Paul Shaffer:

"Meanwhile, Belushi was complaining about his bee costume. Belushi hated putting on the bee costume. It weighed a ton and made him sweat like a hornet in heat.

" 'I hate these bee sketches' said Belushi.

" '[Producer] Lorne [Michaels] loves them,' said [Dan] Aykroyd.

" 'F**k Lorne,' John exclaimed. 'This is my last one.'

" 'Wait a minute,' Danny interjected. 'I've got an idea. What if we get the band to put on bee costumes and we all play Slim Harpo's 'I'm a King Bee.' I'll play harp and you'll sing the shit out of it.'

" 'How's it go?,' asked John.

"Danny started singing the lyrics.

" 'Let's do it,' said John.

"Next thing I know I'm running around the SNL set in a bee costume. I understand why Belushi rails against this thing. It stings. It disorients me to the point that during rehearsal I wander into a Gilda Radner/Garrett Morris sketch in my bee getup.

" 'What are you doing here?' asks Gilda.

" 'I don't know,' I say.

"Belushi is sensational as a buzzed-up blues singer. In the middle of the song he does a full flip and lands flat on his back. The audience licks it up like honey.

"Now Danny and John are warming up the SNL audience as two blues singers, not bees, but two guys dressed in dark hats, dark ties, dark suits and dark glasses.

" 'Why the dark suits and dark glasses?' I ask.

" 'I was hipped to the look by Fred Kaz,' says John 'the beatnik musical director at Second City in Chicago. He's the cat who told me that junkies always wore straight-looking outfits so they could pass. Check out William Burroughs.'

"Shortly thereafter Lorne is featuring the singing duo not as a warmup act, but as on-air performers. Not only that I get to introduce them on camera in the guise of [my character] Don Kirshner. I give it the slowed-down frozen-stiff tanned gold-chained full-nasal Brooklyn brogue treatment of my show-biz friend and say ...

"Today thanks to the brilliant management of Myron S. Katz and the Katz Talent Agency these two talented performers are no longer just a legitimate blues act. But with careful shaping and the fabulous production of Lee Solomon who's a gentleman and his wonderful organization they have managed to become a viable commercial product. So now let's hear it for these two brothers from Joliet Illinois. Ladies and gentlemen I give you ..."


Paul Shaffer


We'll Be Here For The Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin' Showbiz Saga


First Anchor Books Edition


Copyright 2009 Paul Shaffer Enterprises, Inc


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