What happened to Blood Sweat & Tears?

What happened to Blood Sweat & Tears?

In 1970, Blood, Sweat & Tears was at the pinnacle of their career. They had just released their self-titled sophomore album, which dominated the charts for seven weeks and produced three massive Top 5 hits. The band had also won multiple Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, beating out The Beatles’ “Abbey Road.” They were a sensation, headlining Woodstock and captivating audiences worldwide. But then, everything took a dramatic turn.

The question “What happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears?” has puzzled fans and music historians for decades. Filmmaker John Scheinfeld sought to answer this in his documentary, “What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears?” The story he uncovered is a gripping political thriller involving the U.S. State Department, the Nixon White House, and the governments of Yugoslavia, Romania, and Poland.

In the summer of 1970, Blood, Sweat & Tears found themselves entangled in a political quagmire. The U.S. State Department, through its Cultural Presentations Program, had been sending American musicians around the world to promote democracy and freedom. By 1970, rock ‘n’ roll was seen as a powerful tool for this mission. However, the band’s lead vocalist, David Clayton-Thomas, a Canadian, faced the threat of losing his green card due to legal issues. The U.S. government saw an opportunity and made a deal with the band’s manager, Larry Goldblatt, to send Blood, Sweat & Tears on a tour behind the Iron Curtain in exchange for resolving Clayton-Thomas’s immigration status.

The tour took the band to Yugoslavia, Romania, and Poland, where they performed to enthusiastic audiences. However, the political climate was tense, and the band’s cooperation with the U.S. government drew ire from both sides of the political spectrum. Upon their return to the U.S., they faced a media backlash. The right-wing criticized their anti-war stance, while the left-wing condemned their collaboration with the government. This controversy, coupled with internal band tensions and management issues, led to their rapid decline.

The documentary reveals that the tour was meticulously documented by an independent film crew hired by the State Department. However, the footage was suppressed for over 50 years. Scheinfeld managed to locate the original footage in an MGM film vault in Los Angeles and pieced together the story. The film captures the band’s performances and the political tensions they navigated, providing a new perspective on their legacy.

The band’s decline was further exacerbated by their exclusion from the Woodstock film, a decision made by their manager, and their subsequent performances in Las Vegas, which alienated their counterculture fanbase. Despite these setbacks, the documentary highlights the band’s musical prowess and the impact they had on their audiences, particularly in Eastern Europe, where their performances were seen as a symbol of freedom and liberation.

Steve Katz, one of the band’s founding members, reflects on the tour and its aftermath in the documentary. He recalls the emotional toll of the media backlash and the disillusionment he felt. However, he also acknowledges the band’s musical achievements and the lasting impact they had on their fans.

Today, Blood, Sweat & Tears continues to tour with a new lineup of musicians. Bobby Colomby, the band’s co-founder, controls the name and has leased it to various musicians over the years. The documentary has reignited interest in the band and their story, prompting calls for their inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears?” not only sheds light on a pivotal moment in the band’s history but also serves as a reflection on the cultural and political climate of the time. It is a testament to the band’s resilience and the enduring power of their music.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top