The Blues Brothers Tribute Band Michael Jordan (Really) Calls a “Must-See”
"We just really wanted folks to remember John Belushi. He was a great guy."
John Belushi died in 1982. A month later, Lance Haack and Fred Bevier — who met in kindergarten and attended the same Illinois high school as the Blues Brothers star — began appearing as “Jake & Elwood”; they now lead a 10-player Blues Brothers cover band. They’ve kept up the act over the past 40 years.
We had the chance to talk to Haack ahead of the group’s gig at the Little Bear Rib Fest tonight. Here’s why he’s dedicated so much of his life to one very specific piece of entertainment.
InsideHook: Why the Blues Brothers?
Lance Haack: Through the ’70s, we [Haack and Bevier] used to [perform] different, goofy characters, like Billy and John of Saturday Night Fever, and then it just sort of caught on. We just wanted to keep the good things about Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi alive. It was a tribute. We just really wanted folks to remember John Belushi. He was a great guy.
How long have you known your partner Fred, who plays Jake?
We went to kindergarten together. We still live in the same town that we grew up in.
When did you form your band? How many people were in it then? How many in it now?
We started in 1982, just a month after John died. Today there’s 10 people. [At first] there were just us: Jake and Elwood. We were just trying to keep the image of Belushi and Aykroyd alive in a positive way — to keep bringing people around the Blues Brothers. Aykroyd and Belushi were comedic geniuses.
Right after John died, we started goofing around, doing shows in the local bars. We actually grew up in the same town that John Belushi grew up in [Wheaton, IL]. Then we hooked up with the Chicago Bulls in 1986, and we traveled around, doing halftime shows with the NBA through the ’80s and ’90s — all the way until 2007. We’ve done thousands of appearances.
I heard you have a connection to the crew there — can you tell me a little bit about that?
My sister went to the same high school as Jim, Wheaton Central. We didn’t meet him in high school, but we did meet him back in Second City — probably in 1970 or so. He used to play with Bill Murray. This was before SNL, in 1970-1971. We used to go to “dollar Monday” nights at Second City. We met Bill Murray and all those guys before they were famous.
What do you think about what the film has done for the area?
The Blues Brothers are liked across the board: young, old, Black, white … everyone loves the Blues Brothers. That’s the longevity. Just look at what it’s done to help the city of Chicago over the years. It boosts tourism. It’s really a tribute to John and to the Chicago area — and Joliet and Stateville Prison. Now they’re trying to turn that into a place for tourists.
What’s your favorite song to play?
“Messin’ with the Kid.”
You’ve been doing this for 40 years. How is the energy now? Will you be stopping anytime soon?
The energy of the crowd is great. It’s the same energy [even after 40 years]. We will be doing it as long as the phone keeps rings. After all, we’re on a mission from God.
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