“Saturday Night Live” is celebrating its milestone 40th anniversary this season and as a huge fan of the show I wanted to celebrate it with a list of what I consider to be the show’s 40 most memorable moments. Trying to condense a show like “Saturday Night Live” into 40 memorable moments for its 40 years on television is a fool’s errand. One-hundred moments wouldn’t be enough. So there are going to be moments throughout this list that cause controversy because they are included when others aren’t, but that’s what happens when you have such a legendary show and it’s the debate caused by those moments chosen and those left out that truly makes a list fun and worthwhile.
#16. Blues Brothers
The Blues Brothers were originally something “Saturday Night Live” cast members and best friends John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd just did as a hobby to have a little fun during after-parties on Saturday night. The duo wasn’t intended as something to be broadcast on the show or meant as something comical. It was an act built out of a shared bond the two had of old blues and soul music. It was during these after-party gigs that Aykroyd got the idea for a ‘Blues Brothers’ movie.
The name “The Blues Brothers” was offered up jokingly by then ‘SNL’ band leader Howard Shore and it just sort of stuck. The duo would make their first appearance as The Blues Brothers on ‘SNL’ on April 22, 1978 as musical guest for host Steve Martin. The duo performed “Hey Bartender” and “I Don’t Know” on that episode. The two had performed together once before on the show prior to becoming The Blues Brothers in a 1976 episode hosted by Buck Henry performing “King Bee” in a Killer Bees bit. The Blues Brothers second and final appearance on the show as musical guest came on Nov. 18, 1978 in an episode hosted by Carrie Fisher. This appearance would feature their most iconic performance on the show, their cover of the Sam & Dave classic “Soul Man,” as well as performances of “Got Everything I Need (Almost)” and “B Movie Boxcar Blues.” All five musical performances by The Blues Brothers on ‘SNL’ in 1978 appeared on their album Briefcase Full of Blues, which became a Billboard number one album that year. “Soul Man” would even become a top 15 Billboard single.
The Blues Brothers act would propel Belushi and Aykroyd from ‘SNL’ cast members to national superstardom and in 1980 their movie directed by John Landis became the first in a long line of films based off of ‘SNL’ characters, and to this day is one of the most successful. “The Blues Brothers” movie gave us the full backstory of Belushi’s “Joliet” Jake Blues and Aykroyd’s Elwood Blues, something ‘SNL’ never have done.
Belushi died of a drug overdose at only 33 in 1982, but Aykroyd would continue on with The Blues Brothers legacy in a 1998 sequel “Blues Brothers 2000” that saw frequent ‘SNL’ host John Goodman attempting to fill Belushi’s shoes. More adequately filling Belushi’s shoes, however, is perhaps his younger brother, Jim, who frequently performs with Aykroyd’s Elwood as “Brother” Zee Blues.
#17. Frank Sinatra
#18. Brasky’s Buddies
#19. Samurai Futuba
#20. Wayne’s World