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The Blues Brothers Made Their SNL Debut 45 Years Ago Today, By Way of the Bees

  • John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd on Saturday Night Live (NBC)
    John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd on Saturday Night Live (NBC)

    On January 17, 1976, the Blues Brothers appeared for the first time on the tenth ever episode of Saturday Night Live. Except they were dressed like bees. 

    Before John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd were Joliet Jake and Elwood Blues, they were Howard Shore and his All-Bee Band, performing "I'm a King Bee." However, you can easily see this as the developmental form of the Blues Brothers. Belushi is singing and doing insane flips, while Aykroyd is playing harmonica and even sporting the hat and shades.

    That said, they were still doing bee puns and wearing bee suits. The Bees were the first ever recurring characters on SNL, appearing 11 times in its first season, mostly out of Lorne Michaels' spite. "The only note we got from the network on the first show was 'Cut the bees.' And so I made sure I put them in the next show," he said in the book Live From New York. However, the cast got sick of them eventually and the Bees were done after the second season.

    The Blues Brothes proper wouldn't appear until 1978, and they would eventually become an actual popular band, with hit albums and a hit movie. Try to imagine any current Saturday Night Live cast members becoming an only-slightly-ironic musical act the way Belushi and Ayrkoyd did. It's not really a thing that could happen again. 

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    Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.

    TOPICS: Saturday Night Live, NBC, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi