- Jazz/rock band from New York City, formed in 1967. There have been over 150 artists that were part of the group over the years. The original 8 were Al Kooper (keyboards, vocals), Randy Brecker (trumpet, flugelhorn), Jerry Weiss (trumpet, flugelhorn, backing vocals), Fred Lipsius (alto sax, keyboards), Dick Halligan (keyboards, trombone, flute, backing vocals), Steve Katz (guitar, harmonica, flute, mandolin, vocals), Jim Fielder (bass, guitar, backing vocals), and Bobby Colomby (drums, percussion, backing vocals). Notably, David Clayton-Thomas was the vocalist/frontman after Al Cooper left – Clayton-Thomas was the frontman on and off for 33 years.
- The band had 3 distinct periods during their early years. Initially, they were led by Al Kooper. Kooper and Katz were members of a band called The Blues Project, playing blues/rock music. They wanted to incorporate horns into their rock music, so they recruited musicians to form Blood, Sweat & Tears. They played at clubs in New York City, and their fusion of jazz and rock proved to be popular. They signed a record deal, and in 1968 they released their debut album, Child Is Father To The Man. One single was released, which did not chart. The album peaked at #47 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Rolling Stone ranks it at #266 on their list of the Greatest Albums of All Time.
- Several of the band members wanted to hire a stronger vocalist for the group. Kooper was not happy with this, and he left the band. Judy Collins heard David Clayton-Thomas sing at a club, and she recommended Clayton-Thomas to the band. They heard him sing, and the Clayton-Thomas era began. They released their second album, the self titled Blood, Sweat & Tears, in late 1968. It was more pop-oriented, and it was a huge hit, going 4x platinum and topping the charts. All 3 singles peaked at #2 on the Hot 100 chart – You’ve Made Me So Very Happy, Spinning Wheel, and And When I Die. The album won 2 Grammy awards, including Album of the Year in 1970. See my Vintage Vinyl post from April 12, 2017, to learn more about this fabulous album.
- Following the success of their second album, the group performed at Woodstock in 1969. Clayton-Thomas led the band for 2 more studio albums – 1970’s Blood, Sweat & Tears 3 and 1971’s Blood, Sweat &Tears 4. The first of these topped the album chart, while the second peaked at #10. Singles from these albums did not chart as highly as their previous album – their most popular song from these recordings was Hi-De-Ho.
- Clayton-Thomas left the band in 1972 to focus on a solo career. He was briefly replaced by Bobby Doyle, and then by Texas blues singer Jerry Fisher. The Fisher era included 3 studio albums – New Blood, No Sweat and Mirror Image. These albums are much more jazz fusion sounding albums compared to their previous work.
- By 1974, Fisher grew tired of touring, and he left. Clayton-Thomas was convinced to return to the band. He led the band for their final 4 albums from 1975 to 1980. These records did not sell well.
- In 1984, Clayton-Thomas started touring with a revolving door of musicians, playing the classic songs from the band. He did this for 20 years before finally signing off. After his departure, the band continued to tour with various vocalists and line-ups. Since 2013, they have performed with Bo Bice as vocalist – Bice was runner-up to Carrie Underwood in the fourth season of American Idol. Original drummer Bobby Colomby is the sole owner of the Blood, Sweat & Tears trademark. While he stopped performing in 1977, he continues to oversee the direction of the group.
- Their jazz/rock sound was a unique in its day, and David Clayton-Thomas’ vocals were a favorite of mine. Watch the band perform Spinning Wheel from a show in 1969. Love those horns!