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What The Hell Happened to Blood Sweat & Tears

Steve's notes:

I am, and always have been, a fan of Blood Sweat & Tears, who made their mark on the music world beginning in the late 60s onward, with their success reaching astronomical heights in 1970. However, things took a decided turn for the worse when they were forced to participate in a State Department tour behind the Iron Curtain. Despite their incredible and well-received performances in these countries, their US fans now associated the band with the Nixon administration and its policies. As a result, their fan base rebelled against them, and they became arguably the first victims of what is now referred to as "cancel culture".  Bobby Colomby was the original drummer and a founding member of BS&T and I have known him for a few years. I was pleased when Bobby mentioned that this film was in the works, because it will accomplish what I think are some very important goals:

- 1) It illustrates the wrongful manipulation of people forced into a situation just to serve someone's political goal, but..

- 2) The film will also create awareness with a new generation of people who may not know of the musical legacy the band created. BS&T's personnel roster consisted of some of the finest musicians in their field, and the body of work is superb. In my view, their work from this period is a "must listen" for every jazz or jazz/rock fan.

Just a few quick examples for my jazz fans out there:

- The late Lew Soloff's trumpet work ranks up with any of the finest jazz trumpeters. (Check out his work on God Bless the Child on "Blood Sweat & Tears" which is the 2nd album, and Lucretia's Reprise and 40,000 Headmen, both on BS&T 3).

- Bobby Colomby's drumming was always superb, and Buddy Rich commented that he was a fan of Bobby's playing. Enough said there, because we know Buddy wasn't quick with compliments like this. (Check out Bobby's work on Redemption from BS&T 4).

- Dave Bargeron debuted on BS&T 4 coming into BS&T after being lead trombone with Clark Terry's big band and after a stint from 1968-70 on bass trombone and tuba with Doc Severinson's band. His tone quality is superb and his range on trombone is unbelievable. (Check out his work on Redemption from BS&T 4).  

The film will debut in theaters soon, and there is some narrative below from the film's website. See more on the film website HERE. See the YouTube movie trailer HERE.

FROM THE WEBSITE FOR THE FILM:

In June 1970, hot off their spectacular Grammy® win for Album of the Year (besting The Beatles’ “Abbey Road”), Blood, Sweat & Tears becomes the first American rock band to perform behind the Iron Curtain, doing concerts in Yugoslavia, Romania and Poland on a tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

Like much of the youth in America, band members have been outspoken and critical of the Nixon administration and the Vietnam War. The Iron Curtain Tour seems to be a curious decision by the band, which was at the very height of their popularity.

Upon their return, the band becomes a victim of the significant societal upheaval and culture wars in a polarized America, divided as much then as it is now.  Political criticism typically comes from one side or the other. But in 1970, Blood, Sweat & Tears find themselves in the crossfire from both the Right AND the Left and the group suffers greatly as a result. Suddenly, they are no longer hip and cool and lose support from fans, the media, concert bookers and the recording industry.

In short, the Right is outraged by the U.S. government footing the bill for an anti-war/anti-Nixon rock band to tour overseas and refer to Blood, Sweat & Tears members as “Communists”.  The Left is critical of the band for appearing to be an instrument of the U.S. government and/or the CIA. 

Through documentary footage shot during the Iron Curtain tour (and thought to be lost) and present-day interviews with band members and historians, as well as the unsealing of government records, WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS? unravels the details of this extraordinary year in the life of the band.


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