Category: Music

The damned-if-you-do damned-if-you-don’t end of your career

Best Classic Bands reports on one of brass rock’s pioneers:

Blood, Sweat & Tears, known for such hits as “Spinning Wheel,” “And When I Die” and “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” are the subject of a new documentary, What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears? The film is described as “the incredible never-before-told story about a top rock band that was unknowingly embroiled in a political rat’s nest involving the U.S. State Department, the Nixon White House and a controversial concert tour of Yugoslavia, Romania and Poland, countries that were behind what was then known as the Iron Curtain.”

When they returned from the June-July 1970 tour and visit, the band itself was caught in the crossfire from both the right and the left and the group suffered as a result. Suddenly, they were no longer hip and cool and lost support from fans, the media, concert bookers and the recording industry. As a result, they found themselves in the crosshairs of a polarized America–as divided then as it is now–and became an early victim of cancel culture. The feature-length film will be released theatrically in New York and Los Angeles on March 24, 2023, before expanding across North America and Canada via Abramorama.

In 1969, the band played the legendary Woodstock Festival and in 1970 won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for its self-titled, second LP, besting The Beatles’ Abbey Road and Crosby, Stills and Nash’s debut, among others.

Weeks after returning from the Iron Curtain tour, Blood, Sweat & Tears played New York’s Madison Square Garden. Outside the venue, the leftist radical Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies (Youth International Party) led a protest against what they called “Blood, Sweat & Bullshit,” accusing them of being tools of the CIA, and urging people to boycott the band’s records and concerts.

Written, produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker John Scheinfeld (The U.S. vs. John LennonChasing TraneWho Is Harry Nilsson…?) and produced by Dave Harding (Herb Alpert Is…), the film was created with the full cooperation of Blood, Sweat & Tears. The documentary features never-before-seen film and photos of the band, as well as present-day interviews with then-Columbia Records president Clive Davis and five of the nine band members: lead singer David Clayton-Thomas, sax player and musical arranger Fred Lipsius, bass player Jim Fielder, drummer Bobby Colomby, and guitarist Steve Katz, who says, “We were blackmailed.”

“It has been fascinating for me to relive these incidents of some 50 years ago,” said Colomby, “through the footage, documentation and, incredibly, the live performance tapes John and his team discovered through some very deep and tireless digging. I believe the music we made then holds up today.”

The truth-is-stranger-than fiction film blends political intrigue, social commentary and a mystery involving one of the biggest rock bands of the late ’60s and early ’70s.

Director John Scheinfeld adds, “Uncovering the details of the extraordinary story took us far and wide, and we were amazed by the unexpected twists and turns of the tale. We hope people will be as struck as we were by the political parallels and counterpoints between then and now.”

What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears? features 53 minutes of never-before-seen footage shot during the Iron Curtain tour and never-before-seen footage of the opening song of BS&T’s set at Woodstock.


Presty the DJ for May 25

Two unusual anniversaries in rock music today, beginning with John Lennon’s taking delivery of his Rolls-Royce today in 1967 — and it was not your garden-variety Rolls:

Ten years to the day later, the Beatles released “Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany, 1962,” which helped prove that bands don’t need to be in existence to continue recording. (And as we know, artists don’t have to be living to continue recording either.)

Meanwhile, back in 1968, the Rolling Stones released “Jumping Jack Flash,” which fans found to be a gas gas gas:

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Presty the DJ for May 24

Two Beatles anniversaries today:

1964: The Beatles make their third appearance on CBS-TV’s “Ed Sullivan Show.”

1969: “Get Back” (with Billy Preston on keyboards) hits number one:

Meanwhile, today in 1968, Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithful were arrested for drug possession. (Those last five words could apply to an uncountable number of musicians of the ’60s and ’70s.)

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Presty the DJ for May 23

Today in 1969, the Who released their rock opera “Tommy” …

… two years before Iron Butterfly disbanded over arguments over what “In a Gadda Da Vita” (which is one-third the length of all of “Tommy”) actually meant:

The number one British album today in 1970 was “McCartney,” named for you know who:

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Presty the DJ for May 22

For the record, I thoroughly disagree with the number one song today in 1961:

Today in 1965, the Beatles found that “Ticket to Ride” was a ticket to the top of the charts:

That night, ABC-TV’s “Hollywood Palace” turned this classic …

… into, uh, this:

The number one album today in 1971 was the Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers”:

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Presty the DJ for May 21

One strange anniversary in rock music: Today in 1968, Paul McCartney and Jane Asher attended a concert of … Andy Williams:

Eleven years later, not McCartney, but Elton John became the first Western artist to perform in the Soviet Union.

Four years later, David Bowie’s suggestion reached number one:

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Presty the DJ for May 20

Today in 1966, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who decided to replace for the evening the tardy drummer Keith Moon and bass player John Entwistle with the bass player and drummer of the band that played before them at the Ricky Tick Club in Windsor, England.

When Moon and Entwistle arrived and found they had been substituted for, a fight broke out. Moon and Entwistle quit … for a week.

The number one single today in 1967:

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Presty the DJ for May 19

The number-one album today in 1958, and for the next 31 weeks, was the soundtrack to the musical “South Pacific” went to number one and stayed there for 31 weeks. The film version starred Mitzi Gaynor, who looked very much like my mother a few years later.

Today in 1979, Eric Clapton married Patti Boyd, the former wife of George Harrison and the muse for the song “Layla.” The song lasted much longer than the marriage.

One wonders if anyone played selections from that day’s number one British album:

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