Aykroyd was born in Ottawa, Ontario, on July 1, 1952 (Canada Day), to parents of mixed heritage-a French Canadian Catholic mother and an English Canadian Anglican father. Both worked as public servants for the Canadian federal government. His maternal grandfather was a career Royal Canadian Mounted Police Staff Sergeant. This stimulated in Aykroyd a lifelong interest in law enforcement. He majored in sociology, studying criminology and deviant psychology at Carleton University for four years. While writing papers on outlaw motorcycle gangs and Michigan La Cosa Nostra families, he held a summer position as a Clerk 5 with the Canadian Penitentiary Service in the Solicitor General's office. There, Aykroyd composed a standard manual for the deployment of correctional personnel in emergency situations. He also had jobs with the Canadian Department of Transport as an airport runway load tester and at the Department of Public Works as a highway surveyor and flex-track/ATV assistant mechanic in the subarctic.
In the summer of 1970, he first performed on CBC network television as a writer/actor for producer Lorne Michaels in the Great Canadian Humour Test TV special. Michaels was also the host and did a stand-up routine with a partner in his own network show. In 1972, leaving the university without a degree, Aykroyd moved to Toronto to work full time for Ivan Reitman and Moses Znaimer at the groundbreaking Citytv.
In 1997, Aykroyd was awarded a doctorate in literature (honoris causa) from Carleton University for recognition of his Saturday Night Live writing, and for the nine produced screenplays on which he shares co-writing credits-Love at First Sight, The Blues Brothers, Spies Like Us, Dragnet, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Coneheads, Nothing but Trouble (Valkenvania) and Blues Brothers 2000. He also contributed uncredited material to the films Neighbors and The Great Outdoors.
Aykroyd is a Grammy and an Oscar nominee. The Grammy nomination was for Best New Artist in 1979 for the triple-platinum-selling album Briefcase Full of Blues, which he recorded with then partner John Belushi. The OscarĀ nomination was for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in the Best Picture of 1989, Driving Miss Daisy. In total, the films with which Aykroyd has had principal associations have grossed close to $1 billion at the worldwide box office. Additionally, he was awarded an Emmy for his writing on the Saturday Night Live episode which starred Sissy Spacek.
In his persona as Elwood Blues, he has performed on the CDs Briefcase Full of Blues, The Blues Brothers Original Soundtrack, Made in America, Best of the Blues Brothers, Dancing With the Blues Brothers, Blues Brothers-Live From Chicago and The Essential Blues Brothers. In total, approximately 5-million units in this franchise have been sold.
Aykroyd was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1999, receiving a viceregal decoration from the governor general of Canada, given to prominent Canadians who desire to make a better country.
Until late 2002, Aykroyd was a sworn captain in the reserve for the police department of Harahan, Louisiana. He served in an advisory capacity with the reserve for four years and received a citation for youth anti-crime education.
During his transition job from university to full-time professional entertainment, in the early '70s he worked as a contract motor courier to the Royal Mail Service of Canada. He joined the pioneering Canadian Union of Postal Workers as an active member in 1969. He is a member of the Association of Canadian Television Radio Artists, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Screen Actors Guild, the Writers Guild of America and is a subscribing benefactor to the American Society for Psychical Research and the Mutual U.F.O. Network.
In 1983, he co-ventured as an investor with the co-founder of Hard Rock Cafe International, Isaac Tigrett, to open U.S. outlets of the famous British-American establishment in New York, Dallas and Washington, D.C. It was at the New York Hard Rock Cafe's inaugural concert that Aykroyd reconvened the original Blues Brothers band-for the first time since the death of his partner, John Belushi, aka Jake Blues.
Performing thereafter in the Elwood Blues Revue, in 1985 Aykroyd opened the Supreme Court of Rock 'n' Roll Hard Rock in Dallas.
Aykroyd then recruited Jim Belushi to perform as Jake's blood brother, Zee (Zurashayda), for a benefit concert underwriting Carleton University's alumni fund in 1997-in the Opera Chamber at the National Arts Center in Ottawa, Ontario.
Aykroyd and Belushi have since performed as Elwood and Zee Blues for audiences at private and corporate events, as well as for sold-out audiences in casinos around the U.S. They have also performed to open House of Blues venues in America.
In 1993, the House of Blues Entertainment, Inc. was founded by Tigrett, Aykroyd and Laurence Bilzerian. There are House of Blues concert hall/restaurant/retail stores in Los Angeles, CA; New Orleans, LA; North Myrtle Beach, SC; Chicago, IL; Disney West Florida in Orlando, FL; Mandalay Bay Resorts in Las Vegas, NV; Disneyland in Anaheim, CA; and Cleveland, OH. In 2000, House of Blues Entertainment, Inc. acquired the concerts division of Universal Studios. The corporation currently operates 25 venues in North America-making it the third-largest purveyor of live entertainment on the continent. As Elwood Blues, Aykroyd hosts the 10-year running House of Blues Radio Hour, syndicated on 180 radio stations through the United Stations Radio Networks.
After numerous live musical performances with both the original Blues Brothers band and with the house band for House of Blues, The Sacred Hearts, Aykroyd and Belushi decided to employ the talents of their current band in an entirely new way.
Several years ago, they began an active search for material outside of what they were performing from the traditional Blues Brothers CD repertoire. The result is their Have Love Will Travel Revue in which Aykroyd and Belushi work as co-emcees, vocalists and dancers. "The songs and our band are the stars. We are there in service to these classic American songs, says Aykroyd.
Whereas the Blues Brothers sound is a Chicago-Memphis fusion, Have Love Will Travel has Cali-Texas-Louisiana infusion, adds Belushi. Most of the band is from Texas, and the music we're doing now is different from what John and Danny were doing as Jake and Elwood."
Aykroyd has also obtained the rights to Patron Spirits, which he is currently distributing throughout Canada. Patron Tequila is the No. 1 selling tequila in North America and he hopes it will do the same in his native Canada. In 2006, he invested in the Toronto-based Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits and now has his own mid-range wines-in addition to a Dan Aykroyd winery that will start construction this fall and should be completed by 2008. The winery will feature solar panels and green-friendly wastewater management systems and will be located near the town of Lincoln, Ontario. The winery anticipates 44,000 visitors a year and will include memorabilia.
Read earlier biographies on this page.
Dan Aykroyd Facts
|Birth Name||Daniel Edward Aykroyd|
|Birthday||July 1, 1952 (64)|
|Birthplace||Ottawa, Ontario, Canada|
|Height||6' 1" (1m85) How tall is Dan Aykroyd compared to you?|