In June of 1980, a friend of mine asked me to come hang around for a day in a suite at a fancy hotel in downtown Chicago with a couple of comedians who had started doing a musical skit called the Blues Brothers on Saturday Night Live the year before.
It got real popular, and a movie was filmed in Chicago expanding on the skit. And MAN it was funny!! So I spent a day with John Belushi and Dan Ayckroyd, laughing and taking a bunch of pictures. Shortly after that they played at Chicagofest and I got my infamous picture of the guys with Mayor Jane Byrne.
About a year later, John was hired to star in a movie called Continental Divide, a film that took place in rugged mountain country. He knew he would have to train to make it through that film, so he called my friend Fred Degerberg, who owned (and still does) a gym in Chicago. Fred agreed to open his place for John, who arrived in town with Bill “Superfoot” Wallace.
Bill was the Professional Karate Association world full-contact karate champion at the time. He was also the Professional Karate Association (PKA) Middleweight Champion kickboxer. The training started and John asked me to stop by and photograph. I will never forget the comic genius trying to kick his leg over his head like Bill. He failed, but never stopped trying!
I never ran into John again. On March 5, 1982, Bill Wallace found John Belushi dead of a cocaine and heroin overdose, in his room in Bungalow 3, at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles. I just watched him on the SNL 40th Anniversary Show last weekend. What a shame his life was cut short.