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Blood, Sweat & Tears

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, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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airtightguit a r
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 day. Now you've started reading so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's name will come on the screen in big letters. This is so scary because it actually works
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I like this. OK ;)
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hodgdons7
Still great after all these years
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All I can say is ! Cool man !! Need more !
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Still captivating!
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Sweet 69 and 1970 , thank you again.
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I used to dance with my babe You've made me so very happy for months every single night in the dark night barefoot, sweet memories great band, thank you guys.
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Saw them at the Minnesota state fair last summer they were awesome
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Where are you big daddy AL COOPER?
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GO down chips and dice a BLAZING
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Seen em. Love em!
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Singin this Makes everyone. Verry happy
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"So Long Dixie"
H-Town~Rocki n ' ~ W e - A i n ' t - S t o p i n ' - T h a - M u z i c
LOVE+S Disciple*978 * 1 * ~ 1 0 m 1 4 y ~
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Great vinyl record
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Too much was made of the so called purity and integrity of the Al Kooper era and too summarily do they choose to dismiss the equally important viable 2nd version and album and also Jerry Fisher's era.

Both were at the very least equally musically viable eras where there was much adventure. The music spoke for itself and spoke well.
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like this song smooth listing
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We can say so much about the special band this was but the music speaks for them. God Bless the Child, When I Die, with Clayton's voice the band behind him was unmistakeabl e and unique. I miss them, no one like them since. TWM
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Jerry fisher was awesome back in the day when they needed a lead singer
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mikereis235
Blood,Sweat & Tears were Al Kooper's band and in spite of his vocal weakness it took more than David Clayton-Thom a s to make it the band it was. I agree with the comment about the Super Session albums. Kooper with Michael Bloomfield were awesome....
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bsommers61
Love the music
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like two different bands kooper and thomas. if you want to hear some good kooper check ot SUPER SESSIONS
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Created by Al Kooper, awesomeness! !! Clayton has one if those distinct powerful voices. Love the jazzy feel.
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Saw BS&T with David Clayton-Thom a s in Camden, NJ a couple of years ago---blew me away!!! That VOICE!!!!!
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Used to play a lot of their music. One night, they were in town and walked in to listen to our gig. Oh sh#@ was I intimidated!
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It was 1968 and my high school band hall had an Ampex reel to reel tape recorder. We played a recording of this great album. I mean we played the hell out of this album. David Clayton-Thom a s 's voice and that big brassy sound was perfect. That album did not have a bad song on it.
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DCT IS THE MOST POWERFUL VOICES IN 40 YEARS SAW HIM UP IN RENO OUTDOORS 1998 BELTING IT OUT SENSATIONAL SHOWMAN FROM THE HEART IT IS OBVIOUS GOD BLESS HIM
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JCT IS THE MOST POWERFUL VOICES IN 40 YEARS SAW HIM UP IN RENO OUTDOORS 1998 BELTING IT OUT SENSATIONAL SHOWMAN FROM THE HEART IT IS OBVIOUS GOD BLESS HIM
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New York City music for sure..
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This was a time when club music in NYC was hot!!!!!! Dancing til dawn and beyond.
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stairwaytohe a v e n 2 4 6 8
sounds like tom jones
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abf87
to jim valco, how true that is!
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mgsmithusa
Saw BS&T at the Whiskey with David and went out of my head helped along with the Acid. Friend and I sat at table with some record execs that let us sit at their table. The horns and David's voice still echo in my mind to this day. I attended a lot of concerts back then and I never heard anything like them.
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What about Jerry Fisher he was a lead singer for a short time
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The reason BS&T broke up so quickly was because they were all basically jazz studio musicians. If you follow jazz at all you know that jazz groups rarely stay together. Jazz players are free lancers, and that's what BS&Ts was up of. But boy did they make some great music. BS&T 2 is one of my favorite albums of all time.
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msummey1
They have such a gooood sound, unlike a lot of today's music. My husband and I have seen them in concert and they also became our song. YOU MAKE ME SO VERY HAPPY,,,
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I played in a cover band at Nothern Illinois University, and BS&T was one of our favorite groups to copy. Unfortunatel y i never got to see them live.Their music was a lot of fun.
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Nothing like those awesome trombone solos by David Bargeron (esp on Snowqueen).
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gdansk53
I was at one of their concerts in Poland in 1970 and have unforgetable memories - I was lucky to catch a tamburine (sp?) thrown by DCT - osam....
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I think if they kept Al Kooper they would have lasted longer. One-of-a-kin d band.
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leslie849
This Sunday will be the 3rd time that I have been lucky enough to see the legendary BS&T in a close up and personal small venue!
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Just love the horns! All I have to say.
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Come back, Richard Halligan. Maybe now they'll let you play the kitchen sink! Kind of an inside joke but not really if you're a reader of album covers.
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Ahh, BS&T. Bring on the memories and the sweet innovative sounds. Love 'em.
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remember jerry lacroix with al kooper 67,68 bs&t great singer also..gp
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plbeard
This account's claim that such fusion had scarcely existed before ignores the Electric Flag, who were doing similar jazz/blues/p o p things as this band a bit earlier. Their best work is still very solid, and they had a great singer in Nick Gravenites.
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jtibensky
Legendary!
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ggardner88
BST will be at the Minnesota State Fair
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david clayton thomas...wha t a voice. i could listen to him sing all day. dynamic horn section. not overbearing and not too stingy.
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Never eally liked jazzy or horned bands, but for some reason B.S.& T. just seemed to get past my dislike of both... www.eldahs.c o m
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nekhairs07
still love their style along w/ the kashmere stage band and the blackbyrds..

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