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Rockphiles Artist Profile

Blood Sweat & Tears

Dave Matthews' hugely successful fusion of catchy, soulful songs, rock edges and jazz sensibilities seemed innovative to young listeners of the 1990s generation, but those who know their rock history remember that such hybrid approaches began in the late 60s. Blood, Sweat & Tears emerged as an alternative to the straightforward rock and R&B of most pop bands of the era. Their sound, featuring those trademark exciting and detailed horn arrangements, and gutsy vocals from David Clayton-Thomas, was all-new when the band debuted on stage at the Cafe Au Go Go in New York in September of 1967, opening for Moby Grape. They went on to record their first album, Child Is Father To The Man that same year.

Blood Sweat and Tears began with Bobby Colomby and Steve Katz's longtime desire to put a band together. After playing a benefit at the Cafe Au Go-Go with Al Kooper, Katz called him to see if he could use some of his songs, and ended up inviting him to join as lead singer. During that phone call, they decided to name the band "Blood, Sweat & Tears" after the 1963 Johnny Cash album cover that Kooper happened to be looking at. Fred Lipsius, Dick Halligan, Jimmy Fielder, Jerry Weiss and Randy Brecker were also added to the group, completing the initial lineup.

After their first album, which was a commercial flop, conflicts grew over Kooper's leadership and ability to continue as lead singer. In response, Kooper called a meeting backstage at the Cafe Au Go Go and announced he was leaving the band. He invited the rest of the group to walk with him. Only Fred Lipsius joined him, but he rejoined the band six months later. Jerry Weiss left shortly after to form his own band, Ambergris. Randy Brecker left after Jerry, to join Horace Silver's Quintet with his brother Michael.

Bobby Colomby and Steve Katz reformed the band into a new nine-member group that included new lead singer David Clayton-Thomas, and released a self-titled second album in 1969. It became the band's first top-10 hit, staying at #1 for seven weeks. It included the hits "Spinning Wheel" which David had already recorded once in Canada, and "You've Made Me So Very Happy," a song meant for Al Kooper that he had left behind when he quit the group. In 1969, Blood Sweat & Tears headlined the Woodstock festival. The following year they released Blood, Sweat & Tears 3, which came out after their return from a State Department tour in Europe for the U.S. government.

Although the album shipped gold, and went to #1 on the charts, it did not do as well as its predecessor. They released two more gold albums in the seventies, "BS&T 4", which went to number 10 on the album charts, and "Blood, Sweat & Tears Greatest Hits". Clayton-Thomas quit from 1972-74, but has led the band since his return. In 1975, Colomby left for a new career as vice president at CBS Records. In 1996, Clayton-Thomas was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Three years later, he released the solo album, Bloodlines.

Blood Sweat & Tears is still going strong. The present line up consists of Steve Guttman (trumpet, musical director), Gary Foote (Bass), Nick Marchione (first Trumpet), Gregg Sullivan (Guitar), Andrea Valentini (Drums), Dale Kirkland (Trombone), Eric Cortright (Keyboards) and Darcy Hepner (Saxophone).

© 2004