Saturday, December 10, 2011

John Belushi's Drums

Years ago, prior to my stint with PG&E, a Wheaton College student I had met at Burke's Guitar & Music Studio---a fellow guitarist, vocalist and music teacher, Robert Rose---had a band which needed a drummer for a six-week gig at the Golden Pheasant, in Elmhurst. Needing the money, I decided to parlay my drum talents (I had been practicing for a few years, and had taken lessons) for the $60 a week I could make, which---for a four-night a week gig---was considerable pay back in early 1968. Having played with John Belushi's band, The Ravens, a few times during high school (I imagine Mike Blasucci, John's lead guitarist, was unavailable or something), I knew John had a drum kit. Since Belushi was busy in his acting pursuits at that time, he lent me his drums for the gig. I auditioned by playing a dance at Wheaton North High School, with Rose's group "Omega", and made the cut.

About three weeks into the Pheasant gig, as we lovingly knew it, it became obvious that my talents on guitar and vocals were considerably better than my drumming. I ran it by Rose and his crew that I had a great drummer in mind, if everyone would split the pay a little bit. Enter Gary Maier, an accomplished and locally well-known drummer from my home town of Wheaton. Gary took over on John's drums and, with the money he got during the last three weeks of the gig, ultimately bought them from Belushi.

Some time later, Gary saw a great set of drums that he wanted, and ended up selling the former 'Belushi set' to Burke's to help buy the set he wanted. There was little clue as to how much value, both sentimental and monetary, those drums would have today. Their whereabouts are unknown, at least partially due to the passing of almost all of the Burkes we knew and loved, who helped a great number of local musicians get rolling in music, even when the money for equipment wasn't there.