The Mirth of a Nation/The Toronto Origin of the Blues Brothers
Back in the early 1970’s, Dan Akroyd, then with Second City lived and ran an after hours speakeasy out of this store front 505 Queen Street East.
“That’s where I lived and had my speakeasy. It’s where Gilda and John Belushi and Billy and Brian Doyle-Murray and all of us used to drink. I think it’s a law office now, but after 1 in the morning we ran a wide-open, Klondike-style booze can there, which became very famous. We had tremendous evenings of fun there. Cold, cold winter nights where we would sit and reminisce about the things we had just done onstage, and plan our futures.”
It was here that Dan Akroyd and John Belushi first met and talked about the “Blues Brothers” as a future project.
Dan Akroyd writes:
“When John Belushi came up to raid for the National Lampoon show, he came to The Second City show, then we went back to the bar and I played him the song ‘I Got Everything I Need, (Almost)’ by a local blues band, the Downchild Blues Band. Belushi asked me, ‘What’s that music?’ I said, ‘Well, that’s all from the blues, man: Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Stones, The Animals, whatever. It all came from the blues.’ And he said, ‘Well, I’m not into blues, I’m into Grand Funk and heavy metal and crunch and punk.’ I put on some John Lee Hooker and Lightnin’ Hopkins and then a little harp … and John started to say, ‘Whoa, this music is something.’ Someone said, ‘Yeah, you guys should start a band; you could call it the Blues Brothers.’ So before Saturday Night Live, we had that little seed going. But, anyway, this was John’s first time in Canada. He probably said that Canadians were inferior, that we should all wise up and smarten up, and ‘What are you doing up here, anyway? You’re in some wasteland.’ But I said, ‘John, I’ve got a beautiful thing going.’ He said, ‘Ah, you putz!’ And he got mad. Then, I went down and saw him in New York…”