The 1980 movie, The Blues Brothers, only made a modest $115 million in movie theaters when it was released, but it became one of the most iconic music movies ever made. The soundtrack featured big names including Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and James Brown. The Blues Brothers wasn’t just a love letter to some of the best country, soul, Motown and R&B music of the century though, it was also a cult road trip movie about brotherhood and of course the importance of getting the band back together. If you are planning on having a vacation with a difference, head out on the road to Chicago and pay tribute to the ultimate tribute band, The Blues Brothers.
If you’re hoping to make your Blues Brothers road trip authentic, you could hire your own Bluesmobile. This was actually a 1974 Dodge Monaco Sedan – a decommissioned Mount Prospect police car. With any old car, checking the fuel age in the tank is important so that the car runs efficiently. Gasoline has a 3 month shelf life in your car if it’s not driven regularly. There were actually 13 different Bluesmobiles all used in the movie – each one set up differently, some for speed and some for stunts. The first stop on your road trip should of course be where Jake was released from prison and picked up by Elwood, driving the beat-up cop car that he had recently purchased from auction. The prison is the Joliet Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois – it is 35 miles south of Chicago.
On the road
From Joliet, the first stop made by the brothers was in Park Ridge, Illinois, 15 minutes northwest of Chicago. They then traveled to Harvey, one of the suburbs – this is where the car chase in the mall was filmed – the Dixie Square Mall was used for this scene. The mall actually closed down in 1978, but it hadn’t been demolished. After The Blues Brothers was filmed in this “dead mall,” Dixie Square was left abandoned. One of the other famous scenes in the movie was the bridge jump. This was filmed on the 95th Street Bridge on the southeast side of Chicago, over the Calumet River. There was also a chase scene along Wacker Drive and another at the Richard J.Daley Center.
The final chases
Some of the last scenes in The Blues Brothers movie took us from Chicago to Milwaukee, Wisconsin – where the “Illinois Nazis” take a drive off the Hoan Bridge on Interstate 794. When the Bluesmobile flips over you can see the U.S Bank Center in the background. The drive from Chicago takes around 1 hr 30 up the I-94. Finally when you’re on your road trip, make sure that you visit the South Shore Cultural Center, this is where the band played that iconic last concert.
Chicago is an amazing backdrop for The Blues Brothers – it is a city with as much soul as the music. So what are you waiting for? Get in your Bluesmobile and see the sights – just don’t forget to stop for four whole fried chickens and some dry white toast.