Dan Aykroyd on the Tragically Hip, the blues, ghosts and the Caesar

The Kingston native also gives some advice to Hip, a band he holds "in great reverence."

The Kingston native also gives some advice to Hip, a band he holds 'in great reverence.'

Dan Aykroyd singing the blues with q host Tom Power. (Jesse Kinos-Goodin/CBC)

Dan Aykroyd has introduced the world to many unforgettable characters, from Beldar Conehead and Elwood Blues to Ghostbuster Ray Stantz and Ray "the auto parts king" Zalinsky.

As one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, the Kingston-born actor has cemented his status as a Canadian icon.

Aykroyd was back home to celebrate another Canadian symbol, the Caesar, for "national Caesar day," which also happens to be the 50th anniversary of the drink. He joined q's Tom Power to take a trip down memory lane and look at a career that has spanned more than four decades. 

Aykroyd talked about the Blues Brothers, playing Saturday Night Live after parties — he even bust into singing I've Got My Mojo Working — and creating Ghostbusters out of a love for the paranormal.

But the conversation also turned to fellow Kingston artists the Tragically Hip, a band he holds "in great reverence," he said. "A great guitar band, incredible backbone drummer and a real poet and might I say an intellectual at the helm."

Aykroyd also said he lobbied Lorne Michaels to get the band on Saturday Night Live back in 1995, a big break for them in the U.S. market.

"They didn't have much of a presence in terms airplay down in the United States, but they had a live presence, they played a lot of bars, a lot of clubs," he said. "I wanted to get them more exposure, and I think I helped, but it would have been nice to have Gord come back and visit that show again."

Aykroyd, who is still friends with the band — in fact, he gets a phone call from drummer Johnny Fay in the middle of the interview — also talked about how he missed hearing them live, even offering "the boys" some advice.

"If a little time goes past ... you can find an artist up there who grew up with Gord Downie, who can equip themselves with passion, heart and fire to that music, and they should find an artist like that who can say, 'I reverently take upon me at least part of the mantle of Gord Downie,' and go out on the road and keep that music alive."

He mentions acts like Queen, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, all bands who continued, in various ways, despite the deaths of Freddie Mercury, Bon Scott and John Bonham, respectively. Aykroyd himself still performs as a Blues Brother with Jim Belushi taking over the helm from his late brother John. 

"There's an artist out there who loves Gord," says Aykroyd. "I know that if the Hip came to town, backing someone like, this is the individual that we think can keep the flame and passion of Gord alive, his music, his poetry, even his dancing ... wouldn't you go see that show?"

You can listen to the full conversation with Tom Power, above.

Dan Aykroyd sat down with Tom Power to talk Canada, Caesars, the blues, ghosts and the Tragically Hip. (Jesse Kinos-Goodin/CBC)

Aykroyd's book, The Caesar. 50 Years. 50 Stories is out now. You can also catch him performing with the Downchild Blues Band next month, along with Paul Shaffer, as part of this year's TD Toronto Jazz Festival. 

Produced by ​Tyrone Callender

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