There was some luck, Dan Aykroyd admits, in the instant success of the Blues Brothers. After all, their Top 20 1979 version of “Soul Man” arrived at just the right moment.
“We released the record at a time in American music when there was a desert, a lull, a void,” Aykroyd tells Terry Mullins of Blues Blast. “You had disco dying and you had punk and new wave being born.” What better time for a brief respite of nostalgia, courtesy of an old Sam and Dave song suggested by the late bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn?
Still, it would take more than great timing and a classic R&B cut to push this comedy act into the uppermost of the Billboard charts. It would also take a group of honest-to-goodness musical stars — and the Blue Brothers band had them in the form of Dunn, Steve Cropper, Matt Murphy and a killer group of horn players.
“The Blues Brothers came off as a genuine article because we had Cropper and Dunn and Matt Murphy — those three magnificent Memphis guitar players,” Aykroyd says. “Murphy played with James Cotton, and Duck and Steve played on all those Stax/Volt records. That combination was a powerhouse that was not to be duplicated, a Chicago/Memphis fusion band. That’s what the Blues Brothers was and that’s what really made it work. They added legitimacy to our enterprise.”
Aykroyd also calls Tom Malone, Lou Marini and Alan Rubin “the greatest horn section on the planet … just incredible. You walk in the door with some really incredible players like that and that gives you instant credibility.”
Put it all together, and what do you get? Maybe Dunn himself put it best in the Blues Brothers film.