This eight-piece group was the brainchild of Al Kooper, former Bob Dylan sideman, Brill Building songsmith and kingpin of The Blues Project, but he had dropped out by the time Blood, Sweat & Tears topped the US album charts in Spring 1969.
Guitarist Steve Katz and the rest of the band hired Canadian singer David Clayton-Thomas, grafted a jazzy horn section onto a standard rock group chassis, and their jazz-rock fusion found approval in the singles market too, where You’ve Made Me So Very Happy, Spinning Wheel and And When I Die all became million sellers, with their next album also reaching #1.
The magical chemistry of Blood, Sweat & Tears was the interaction of high calibre musicians from diverse backgrounds: bassist Jim Fielder from rock; Steve Katz and David Clayton Thomas from Chicago blues and soul; Bobby Colomby, Fred Lipsius and Lews Soloff from jazz, and Dick Halligan from classical music.
In this nine-man democratic band, each musician would contribute, clash and fuse with one another, sometimes resulting in brilliance while bringing worldwide fame.
As a live band, whether performing at Woodstock, the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, or the Fillmore East, BS&T usually gave dynamic performances.
Their success rate trailed off after a few years, but they certainly blazed a trail for the genre, and for bands such as Chicago.
The undoing of BS&T’s success probably started with their third album when they decided to produce themselves. The fourth album was even less successful and the group began unravelling. By 1973, Steve Katz left the band and other original members soon followed.
The group continued as a constantly changing ensemble, but from this point the group essentially became a lounge act with departed drummer Bobby Colomby owning the band’s name.
During a European tour, saxophonist Greg Herbert died of an accidental drug overdose in Amsterdam on 31 January 1978.
Founding member and multi-instrumentalist Dick Halligan died on 18 January 2022 from natural causes. He was 78.
Al Kooper’s thoughts on Blood, Sweat and Tears are aired in his outlandishly entertaining autobiography, Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards.
Trombone, flute, keyboards