Last summer DM told you all about the time that the late, great sketch comic/actor John Belushi sat in on drums with The Dead Boys at CBGB in the ‘70s. We noted in that post that Belushi’s best known connections to the music world were his creation of that most transcendent of all wish-fulfillment projects The Blues Brothers, and his championing of the notorious punk band Fear as musical guests on Saturday Night Live. A commenter on that post helpfully pointed out that Belushi’s interest in music didn’t just strike him when he became known, he had a history in the ‘60s garage rock scene, and there’s a collectible artifact to prove it.
In 1965, Belushi was the drummer for a band called the Ravens, who made the 40-minute trek east from Wheaton, IL to Chicago to record a single. The A side was an original called “Listen to Me Now,” and the flip was a Kingsmen cover, “Jolly Green Giant.” Online sources vary in this estimate, but as few as 40 and as many as 200 copies may have been pressed. It’s unclear how popular the band was—they’re mentioned in Dean Milano’s The Chicago Music Scene: 1960s and 1970s, but judging by the brief and modest description, that noteworthiness is clearly a product of Belushi’s later fame moreso than the band’s contemporary following:
Before he became known and loved by the world through his comedy, John Belushi played drums in a rock band called the Ravens in his hometown of Wheaton. The band played the local youth center and area high school dances. Members included Belushi, Phil Special, and Dick and Mike Blasucci. Eventually Belushi’s drums were sold to a local music store where they were used to give drum lessons to aspiring rock and rollers.
If you’re interested in that detail about the afterlife of Belushi’s drum set, it’s related in more depth here.
In 2011, the Chicago-based garage/psych/punk label Alona’s Dream reissued that lone Ravens single, which had the amusing unintended effect of making John Belushi posthumous labelmates with Rights of the Accused and The Necros. The reissued 7” was pressed in an edition of only 200, so it’s still a scarce item. YouTube was unaccomodating of our wish to share “Jolly Green Giant” with you, but thanks to the reissue, “Listen to Me Now” is easy enough to hear. It’s a first-person account of a guy with a new girlfriend who’s nonetheless still pining for his ex.
Guys can be dicks like that, sometimes.