Jim Belushi Believes His Brother John Could Have Lived If He’d Had These 2 Alternatives

John Belushi rose to fame as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live and the movies Animal House and The Blues Brothers. He died of a cocaine and heroine overdose in 1982. John’s brother, Jim Belushi, is still in show business and he’s launching a new reality series, Growing Belushi

John Belushi | Richard McCaffrey/ Michael Ochs Archive/ Getty Images

Jim Belushi spoke with The Hollywood Reporter for an article published Aug. 19. Belushi spoke to THR about the circumstances that led to his brother’s death. Growing Belushi, about Jim’s new marijuana farming business, airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on Discovery.

Jim Belushi had to do a show when he heard John Belushi had died

Jim recalled the day John died. He was set to go on stage and the show had to go on. 

“I was in the middle of a voice lesson at the Shubert Theatre in Chicago,” Belushi told THR. “I was doing Pirates of Penzance, and a guy in the box office was listening to the radio. And, he came backstage and told me he heard it, and I thought it was just some joke him and Danny [Aykroyd] were doing. I went to the box office, I called WBBM Radio, and the guy said, ‘I’m sorry, Jim.’ He read it from the AP report, and that’s how I found out. And then I went and did the show that night.”

Jim Belushi had to deal with his brother’s death publicly

Jim transitioned from theater to film, including About Last Night based on Sexual Pervisity in Chicago, which he’d performed on stage. He had a successful run of movies in the ’80s and ’90s with Red Heat, K-9, Taking Care of Business, Mr. Destiny and more. His sitcom, According to Jim, ran from 2001 – 2009, but he recalls the difficulty of being the surviving Belushi brother.

Jim Belushi
Jim Belushi | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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“In our family, the most successful was the head,” he told THR. “So it was like chopping the head off. It was like throwing a hand grenade into a family: The shrapnel hits everyone differently, rips us apart. And then to put the extra layer of notoriety around it just overwhelmed me.”

John Belushi might have lived if he had these two things, his brother says

Jim told THR he thinks if John had used marijuana instead of harder drugs, he could still be alive. He also thinks moving to Los Angeles to make movies (SNL was in New York), made John self-medicate more.

“I don’t think John would have died in any other city,” he said. “There is a loneliness that can prevail in Los Angeles, coupled with the unbelievable accessibility of everything.”

Jim Belushi still thinks about the drugs that killed John

In Growing Belushi, Jim travels the world to explore differeng marijuana plants. Traveling to Colombia, he sees Pablo Escobar’s cocoa fields. 

Jim Belushi: Sirius
Jim Belushi | Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

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“I wonder if the cocaine that was involved in my brother’s death came from one of these fields,” Jim says. “I wanted to get down in that coca field and pull it up from the roots and look at it in the eye and say, ‘Stop hurting people and families,’ If they could turn those fields into cannabis, those families could make their living farming, and they could make a plant that could heal people — spiritually, physically, emotionally.”

How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.