Tue, May 16, 2023 | 7:30 pm
What the Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears?
“What Goes Up Must Come Down”
DOCUMENTARY and Live Appearance by Steve Katz
Director: John Scheinfeld
Executive Producer: James Sears Bryant
A post-film conversation with Steve Katz, and Day Music Writer Rick Koster. Plus, live performance by Steve Katz!
The movie is the real story of the U.S. State Department, the Nixon White House, the governments of Yugoslavia, Romania and Poland – and Blood, Sweat & Tears, one of the biggest bands in the world.in 1970 – and the documentary footage that has been suppressed for over 50 years by one or all of the above.
They had exploded on the scene with both daring and promise, selling millions of records, winning multiple Grammy Awards including Album of the Year (beating out The Beatles’ Abbey Road) and headlining the legendary Woodstock festival. In demand for concert and TV appearances, BS&T was a darling of the mainstream and rock press, icon of the counterculture and inspiration for a generation of horn-based bands.
Their future was limitless. And then it all went wrong.
In June 1970, hot off their spectacular Grammy® win for Album of the Year (besting The Beatles’ “Abbey Road”), Blood, Sweat & Tears becomes the first American rock band to perform behind the Iron Curtain, doing concerts in Yugoslavia, Romania and Poland on a tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department.
Like much of the youth in America, band members have been outspoken and critical of the Nixon administration and the Vietnam War. The Iron Curtain Tour seems to be a curious decision by the band, which was at the very height of their popularity.
Upon their return, the band becomes a victim of the significant societal upheaval and culture wars in a polarized America, divided as much then as it is now. Political criticism typically comes from one side or the other. But in 1970, Blood, Sweat & Tears find themselves in the crossfire from both the Right AND the Left and the group suffers greatly as a result. Suddenly, they are no longer hip and cool and lose support from fans, the media, concert bookers and the recording industry.
In short, the Right is outraged by the U.S. government footing the bill for an anti-war/anti-Nixon rock band to tour overseas and refer to Blood, Sweat & Tears members as “Communists”. The Left is critical of the band for appearing to be an instrument of the U.S. government and/or the CIA.
Through documentary footage shot during the Iron Curtain tour (and thought to be lost) and present-day interviews with band members and historians, as well as the unsealing of government records, WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS? unravels the details of this extraordinary year in the life of the band.
Steve Katz Bio:
Steve Katz’s professional career started in the late fifties on a local Schenectady, New York television program. At 15, Steve studied guitar with Dave Van Ronk and Reverend Gary Davis and met many of the great “rediscovered” blues men of an earlier era, like Son House, Skip James and Mississippi John Hurt.
While teaching guitar in Greenwich Village, Steve joined the Danny Kalb Quartet which, when Al Kooper joined, became the Blues Project, a foray of young white middle-class musicians into the amplified world of Chicago blues. The Blues Project, after two glorious years, played the Monterey Pop Festival as their last major gig. The Blues Project’s lasting contribution during its short life was to open the airwaves of radio to more album-oriented Rock.
After the demise of the Blues Project, Steve, Al Kooper, Bobby Colomby and Jim Fielder formed Blood, Sweat and Tears. Al Kooper left Blood, Sweat & Tears after only six months, and David Clayton-Thomas was hired as lead singer. Their album sold six million copies worldwide and fostered three number one singles. Steve continued with Blood, Sweat & Tears for six years, during which time the group won three Grammies, were voted best band by the Playboy Jazz and Pop Poll two years in a row, and won three major Downbeat awards, to name a few.
In 1972 Steve produced Lou Reed’s Rock & Roll Animal and Sally Can’t Dance.
In 1977 Steve was appointed East Coast Director of A&R and later as Vice President of Mercury Records. The highlight of the three years that Steve spent at Mercury was his being able to produce the great Irish group Horslips. As a New York A&R executive in Dublin, Steve had also passed on a young group by the name of U2, a decision that Steve would regret for the rest of his life.
In 1987, Steve became Managing Director of Green Linnet Records, the foremost record label of traditional Irish music in America, during which time he married his one true love, Alison Palmer, a ceramic artist.
Steve recently released his first solo album, The Juggle, in 2019. He still performs, does book talks, is a professional photographer, and has produced a memoir, published by Lyons Press. Steve and Alison live in Kent, Connecticut.
“A tasty and urgent piece of rock history”
“An engaging, and sometimes enraging, exposé of chronic insularity”
The New Yorker