Opening today (March 24th) in theaters in New York and L.A. on March 31st, is director John Scheinfeld's latest documentary, What The Hell Happened To Blood, Sweat & Tears? The film, which is already garnering an Oscar and Grammy buzz among industry insiders, is Scheinfeld's latest in a long line of docs, which include his celebrated looks at music's watershed talents, including The U.S. vs. John Lennon; Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)?; and the John Coltrane doc, Chasing Trane, among others.
The new film, culled from footage shot in 1970 during the band's infamous tour behind the iron curtain, explains Blood, Sweat, & Tears' eventual fall from grace by the key players in the band at the time — including leader and drummer Bobby Colomby, guitarist Steve Katz, and former-frontman David Clayton-Thomas, among their other legendary bandmates.
In short, in order to allow Canadian Clayton-Thomas to remain in the U.S. and be granted a green card, the band's management struck a deal with Richard Nixon's State Department to play Eastern Europe as part of a good will cultural offering. Upon returning to the States after blowing away the Eastern European crowds, the leftist counterculture slammed the band as being pawns on the wrong side of history as their star slowly faded — especially after extolling the virtues of American life as opposed to some of the soul crushing scenes the band had witnessed overseas under Communist rule.
Drummer Bobby Colomby, who also co-wrote the score for the new doc, explained the bind the group was in and how they believed they had found the perfect solution to solve their frontman's immigration woes: ["Our singer's green card was gone. We couldn't play in the United States without him having a green card. Someone or somebody — it could have been the Immigration (Department), it could've been a right-wing congressman — it could've been anything. Someone looked at his record and said, 'He's got a prison record — no more green card.' It felt vindictive because he had had (a work visa) for so long and (it was) gone when we have Number One records. But when we went to (Eastern Europe), it was a quid pro quo in the purest sense. Somehow, the manager, he called — or they called him — and said something about the green card and 'We have a solution.'"] SOUNDCUE (:35 OC: . . . have a solution)
Ultimately, Colomby explained that the plan to save the band — due to no fault of their own — actually only caused it to unravel: ["We probably wouldn't have taken any heat had it not been advertised by the State Department — who was, by the way, pretty anti-Nixon. They were cool, they were nice, but you don't say 'State Department-Sponsored Tour.' The more they said that — the uglier it sounded. It was all of a sudden, in a nutshell, (like) Sammy Davis (Jr.) hugging Nixon. That's what it was like and we're caught in this thing."] SOUNDCUE (:22 OC: . . . in this thing)
Blood, Sweat, & Tears are best remembered for their chart-topping 1968 self-titled second album, which boasted a trio of Top Two hit singles — "You've Made Me So Very Happy," "Spinning Wheel," and "And When I Die." Blood, Sweat, & Tears went on to snag the coveted 1970 Grammy Award for Album Of The Year.
On April 21st, the soundtrack to What The Hell Happened To Blood, Sweat & Tears? will be released via Omnivore on CD and digitally. The film score, by Bobby Colomby and David Mann, will only be available digitally.
For theater information, log on to: https://www.bstdoc.com/watch