For all of the fame the Blues Brothers franchise belatedly afforded Steve Cropper, he says the original 1980 film actually had several scenes cut that would have showcased Cropper and his pipe-smoking, bass-playing bandmate in Booker T. and the MGs, Donald “Duck” Dunn.
Both musicians had feature moments in the initial script, but neither was shot as part of the comedy extravaganza. The film, which also featured performances by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Cab Calloway, ultimately had far more material than could be comfortably fit into a feature-length presentation.
“That went along, I guess, with budget saving,” Cropper tells Michael Berry. “In its entirety, I was told by [Blues Brothers director] John Landis that they filmed over 600 miles of film — which would have made that movie about a four-hour saga. [Laughs.] They really had to edit a lot of it down.”
Some of those lost scenes, Cropper adds, had been ear-marked for a future television special. “But that never happened,” Cropper adds. Contracts had already been signed for a sequel, too — though ultimately, because of Belushi’s untimely death, that didn’t take place until the late 1990s, with John Goodman filling in for Belushi.
In that sequel, called Blues Brothers 2000, Dan Aykroyd made a point of giving Cropper and the band a spotlight moment, bringing the guitarist forward in an attempt to make up for the lost earlier scenes. “It was Dan’s intention,” Cropper says, “very definitely his intention — and also Landis went along with it. He wanted to bring us to the forefront, in the second movie.”
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