Slacker Logo

Blood, Sweat & Tears

ON AIR
Advertisement
Advertisement

Bio

No American rock group ever started with as much daring or musical promise as Blood, Sweat & Tears, or realized their potential more fully -- and then blew it all as quickly. From their origins as a jazz-rock experiment that wowed critics and listeners, they went on -- in a somewhat more pop vein -- to sell almost six million records in three years, but ended up being dropped by their record label four years after that. Blood, Sweat & Tears started as an idea conceived by Al Kooper in July of 1967. An ex-member of the Blues Project, Kooper had been toying with the notion, growing out of his admiration for jazz bandleader Maynard Ferguson, of forming an electric rock band that would include horns and use jazz as the basis for their work. He planned to pursue this in London, but a series of New York shows involving some big-name friends didn't raise enough money to get him there. He did, however, find three players who wanted to work with him: bassist Jim Fielder, Blues Project guitarist Steve Katz, and drummer Bobby Colomby. Kooper agreed, as long as he was in charge musically. The horn section featured Fred Lipsius (saxophone), with Randy Brecker and Jerry Weiss on trumpets and flügelhorns, and Dick Halligan playing trombone. The new group was signed to Columbia Records, and the name "Blood, Sweat & Tears" came to Kooper after a jam at the Cafe au Go Go, where a cut on his hand left his organ keyboard covered in blood. That first version of Blood, Sweat & Tears played music that roamed freely through realms of jazz, R&B, soul, and even psychedelia in ways that had scarcely been heard before in one band. The songs were bold and challenging, and the arrangements gave Lipsius, Brecker, et. al room to solo, while Kooper's organ and Katz's guitar swelled in pulsing, shimmering glory. Their debut, Child Is Father to the Man, was released in February 1968, and seemed to portend a great future. The only thing it didn't have was a hit single to get AM radio play and help drive sales. Disagreements about repertory grew into doubts about Kooper's ability as a lead singer, and soon split this band. Kooper left in March of 1968, and Brecker followed him out. That might've been the end of the story, except that Colomby and Katz decided to salvage a band of their own band out of this debacle. The lineup was reshuffled and expanded, and for a lead singer they found a Canadian national named David Clayton-Thomas. The new Blood, Sweat & Tears recorded their album in late 1968. Blood, Sweat & Tears, released in January 1969, was smoother and more traditionally melodic than its predecessor. Equally important, the singles from the album were edited, removing the featured spots for the jazz players. "You've Made Me So Very Happy" rose to number two and lofted the album to the top of the LP listings. "Spinning Wheel" b/w "More and More" and "And When I Die" followed, and when the smoke cleared, the album had yielded a career's worth of hits. The LP also won the Grammy as Album of the Year, selling three million copies in the bargain. In the spring of 1970, however, the group lost a huge amount of momentum with its core audience, college students, when they undertook a tour of Eastern Europe on behalf of the U.S. State Department. The Vietnam War was still raging, and anything to do with the government was potentially poisonous on college campuses. It was on their return to America, amid this dubious career move -- which was done to overcome the problem of Clayton-Thomas' shaky immigration status -- that Blood, Sweat & Tears 3 was released. It briefly topped the LP charts, and the single "Hi-De-Ho" reached number 14, but both sold only a fraction of what their earlier releases had done. Additionally, the group was now criticized in the rock press, which felt that Blood, Sweat & Tears were either a pretentious pop group that dabbled in horn riffs, or a jazz outfit trying to pass as a rock band. The group's decision to perform at a Las Vegas casino -- which even upset the head of Columbia Records, Clive Davis -- did nothing to defuse these doubts. Clayton-Thomas exited after the fourth album to pursue a solo career. Most of the group's original and second-generation players were gone by then as well, though the playing standard remained consistently high. The lineup became a revolving door -- even Jaco Pastorius passed through their ranks, briefly -- and the group's record sales imploded, squeezed as they were by Chicago on the pop side of jazz-rock, and outfits such as Weather Report and Return to Forever on the more musically ambitious side of the spectrum. Clayton-Thomas returned in 1974, to what was billed officially as "Blood, Sweat & Tears Featuring David Clayton-Thomas." They released New City (1975), which did well enough to justify an ambitious tour that yielded the double-LP Live and Improvised. Columbia Records dropped the group in 1976, and even Bobby Colomby, who had trademarked the group's name, gave up playing with them. Clayton-Thomas has kept the group name alive in the decades since, fronting various lineups. ~ Bruce Eder
Read All Read Less

Albums by
Blood, Sweat & Tears

false

    12 songs

    On Air

    No Sweat

    11 songs

    On Air

    Mirror Image

    10 songs

    On Air

    New City

    16 songs

    On Air

    Child Is Father to the Man

    12 songs

    On Air

    Blood, Sweat & Tears 4

    10 songs

    On Air

    Blood, Sweat & Tears

    10 songs

    On Air

    Blood, Sweat & Tears 3

    32 songs

    On Air

    The Essential Blood, Sweat & Tears

    9 songs

    On Air

    New Blood

    8 songs

    On Air

    More Than Ever

    7 songs

    On Air

    Nuclear Blues

    25 songs

    On Air

    Rare, Rarer & Rarest

    13 songs

    On Air

    Blood, Sweat & Tears' Greatest Hits [Remastered]

    10 songs

    On Air

    Super Hits

    32 songs

    On Air

    What Goes Up: The Best of Blood, Sweat & Tears

    13 songs

    On Air

    In Concert

    21 songs

    On Air

    Live

    11 songs

    On Air

    The Stockholm Concert, 1973 (Live)

    16 songs

    On Air

    Blood, Sweat & Tears

    12 songs

    On Air

    Blood, Sweat & Tears [Bonus Tracks]

    15 songs

    On Air

    Child Is Father to the Man

    6 songs

    On Air

    In Dallas, 1973 (Remastered) [Live]

    4 songs

    On Air

    Four Hits: Blood, Sweat & Tears

    15 songs

    On Air

    Spinning Wheel: The Best of Blood, Sweat & Tears

See All Albums

Top Songs by
Blood, Sweat & Tears

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   You've Made Me So Very Happy
  3.   Spinning Wheel
  4.   And When I Die
  5.   Hi-de-Ho
  6.   Lucretia MacEvil
  7.   I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know
  8.   God Bless the Child
  9.   I Can't Quit Her
  10.   More and More
  11.   Go Down Gamblin'
  12.   Lucretia's Reprise
  13.   Sometimes in Winter
  14.   Smiling Phases
  15.   40,000 Headmen
  16.   Manic Depression
  17.   House in the Country
  18.   Without Her
  19.   He's a Runner
  20.   Look Up to the Sky
  21.   One Room Country Shack
  22.   Variation on a Theme by Erik Satie (1st Movement)
  23.   Empty Pages
  24.   Got to Get You into My Life
  25.   Are You Satisfied
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
Blood, Sweat & Tears

    On Air

    Woodstock Diaries

    On Air

    '60s Rock

    On Air

    Oldies

    On Air

    '60s Hits

    On Air

    Jimi Hendrix: DNA

    On Air

    Vintage Love Songs

    On Air

    Classic Rock Deep Dive

    On Air

    '60s Deep Dive

    On Air

    Hotel Poolside

    On Air

    '70s Hits

    On Air

    '70s Deep Dive

    On Air

    Classic Soft Hits

    On Air

    Classic Rock


Artists Related to
Blood, Sweat & Tears

On Air

Chicago

On Air

Pacific Gas & Electric

On Air

Three Dog Night

On Air

Joe Cocker

On Air

Lighthouse

On Air

The Rascals

On Air

The Blues Project

On Air

Santana

On Air

The Guess Who

On Air

Eric Burdon

On Air

Chase

On Air

Van Morrison

On Air

Rare Earth

On Air

Janis Joplin

On Air

The Moody Blues

On Air

The Who

On Air

Traffic

On Air

Al Kooper

On Air

Illustration

On Air

Cold Blood

On Air

Electric Flag