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Band founded in 1968 by Bobby Colomby (drums; born December 20, 1944, in New York, NY), Steve Katz (guitar, vocals; born May 9, 1945, in Brooklyn, NY), and Al Kooper (keyboards, vocals; born February 5, 1943, in New York); David Clayton-Thomas (lead vocals; born September 13, 1941, in Surrey, England) replaced Kooper in 1969; other early members included Jim Fielder (bass; born October 4, 1947, in Denton, TX), Jerry Hyman (trombone; born May 19, 1947, in Brooklyn), Dick Kalligan (keyboards, trombone, flute; born August 29, 1943, in Troy, NY), Fred Lipsius (alto sax, piano; born November 19, 1943, in New York), Lew Soloff (trumpet, flugelhorn; born February 20, 1944, in Brooklyn), and Chuck Winfield (trumpet, flugelhorn; born February 5, 1943, in Monessen, PA).
In 1967 veteran musician Al Kooper began to assemble Blood, Sweat and Tears, the large blues/jazz rock band that had occupied his imagination for many years. A former member of the 1950s pop group the Royal Teens ("Short Shorts"), session musician for Bob Dylan, and member of New York City's Blues Project, Kooper wanted to expand the scope of rock to include the more polite forms of jazz and, simultaneously, to bring jazz to a larger and more general audience.
Envisioning a jazz-rock fusion, Kooper recruited musicians with strong jazz and rock backgrounds for his eight-ten member band: guitarist Steve Katz, for instance, was another Blues Project member; drummer Bobby Colomby played for folk-blues singer Odetta; bass player Jim Fielder worked with the Mothers of Invention and Buffalo Springfield; and the group's unusually large horn section (two trumpeters, two trombonists, and a saxophonist) hailed from New York jazz and studio bands.
Blood, Sweat and Tears launched its innovative sound with the album Child Is Father to the Man, reinventing the songs of Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, Carole King, and others through the heavy use of brass and jazz. Recognized as a milestone in rock music, the album nonetheless fell short of commensurate commercial success. Kooper decided to leave the band in favor of record producing (two other members left as well), and many feared the group would fold before it had a chance to get off the ground. Leadership fell to Katz and Colomby; new musicians joined the ranks, and this time the public proved ready for the new ensemble.
When Kooper left Blood, Sweat and Tears Canadian rock star David Clayton-Thomas became the band's lead singer--his powerful rasping vocals soon became identified with the group and its subsequent commercial success. With Clayton-Thomas, the 1969 album Blood, Sweat and Tears became a blockbuster hit, the number one LP for seven straight weeks. Introducing three gold singles, the Grammy-winning album remained on the charts for more than two years. The album featured big band jazz-rock arrangements of old and new songs by such artists as Brenda Holloway, Billie Holiday, Laura Nyro, and Steve Winwood; the three cuts "Spinning Wheel," "And When I Die," and "You've Made Me So Very Happy" climbed to the top of the charts.
Blood, Sweat and Tears 3, appearing a year later, was nearly as successful, introducing the hit singles "Hi-De-Ho" and "Lucretia MacEvil." At the height of its popularity, the band was enlisted by the U.S. State Department for a 1969 goodwill tour of Yugoslavia, Romania, and Poland. The band's acclaim was short-lived, however; the 1971 single "Go Down Gamblin'" proved to be the group's last big hit. Other horn rock bands had sprung up by then: Chase, the Ides of March, and the highly regarded and commercially successful Chicago Transit Authority (later renamed Chicago).
Beset by internal dissent and frequent personnel changes, Blood, Sweat and Tears was dealt a serious blow when Clayton-Thomas left in 1972 to pursue a solo career; engaging a succession of lead singers, the band enjoyed a brief return of popularity when Clayton-Thomas rejoined in 1974. Others pointed to Blood, Sweat and Tears's commercialism as a reason for its steady decline: the group rarely engaged in the improvisation so integral to jazz (duplicating recordings note for note in concert), and many questioned the earnestness of its jazz-rock experiment.
Becoming a regular act in Las Vegas, the band was charged with being hollow and pretentious, swapping its original rock audience for older, cabaret-oriented listeners, abandoning--according to The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock-- "the very road of rock it set out to re-surface." Still, fans of the group defended its right to evolve, deeming its brassy commercial style worthwhile. Yet others acknowledged that before Blood, Sweat and Tears fell away from Kooper's original vision it was the best of the jazz-rock bands and that it was owed a debt of gratitude for the musical possibilities it opened to those who came after.
by Meg Mac Donald
Blood, Sweat and Tears's Career
Band subject to frequent personnel changes; later members included Dave Bargeron (trombone, tuba, trumpet; born September 6, 1942, in Massachusetts), Jerry Fisher (vocals; born c. 1943 in Dekalb, TX), Tom Malone (trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, saxes), Lou Marini, Jr. (saxes, flute; born in Charleston, SC), George Wadenius (guitar; born in Sweden), and Larry Willis (keyboards; born c. 1942 in New York). During major reorganization in 1972 lead singer Clayton-Thomas left; he returned in 1974, became co-owner of band's name and catalog, and group has been billed as Blood, Sweat and Tears featuring David Clayton-Thomas since 1975.
Blood, Sweat and Tears's Awards
Three Grammy Awards, including one for album of the year, 1969, for Blood, Sweat and Tears.
- Child Is Father to the Man Columbia, 1968.
- Blood, Sweat and Tears Columbia, 1969.
- Blood, Sweat and Tears 3 Columbia, 1970.
- Blood, Sweat and Tears 4 Columbia, 1971.
- Blood, Sweat and Tears Greatest Hits Columbia, 1972.
- New Blood Columbia, 1972.
- No Sweat Columbia, 1973.
- Mirror Image Columbia, 1974.
- New City Columbia, 1975.
- More Than Ever Columbia, 1976.
- Brand New Day ABC, 1977.
- Classic Blood, Sweat and Tears Columbia, 1980.
- Nuclear Blues LAX, 1980.
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, Harmony Books, 1976.
- The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, edited by Jon Pareles and Patricia Romanowski, Summit Books, 1983.
- Stambler, Irwin, Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock and Soul, revised edition, St. Martin's, 1989.
- Down Beat, September 1987.
- People, June 2, 1980.
- Stereo Review, November 1980.
Blood, Sweat and Tears Lyrics
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