Woodstock Day 3, Performer 6: Blood, Sweat & Tears

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock festival, August 1969–2019 Day Three, Performer 6 Blood, Sweat & Tears Performed Monday morning, August 18, 1:45–2:45 am

David Clayton-Thomas leading Blood, Sweat & Tears at Woodstock. Screen-grab from the film, Woodstock (1970).

David Clayton-Thomas: vocals, guitar Steve Katz: guitar, harmonica, vocals Dick Halligan: keyboards, trombone, flute Jerry Hyman: trombone Fred Lipsius: alto saxophone, piano Lew Soloff: trumpet, flugelhorn Chuck Winfield: trumpet, flugelhorn Jim Fielder: bass Bobby Colomby: drums Woodstock set list:

  1. More and More
  2. Just One Smile
  3. Something's Coming On
  4. I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know
  5. Spinning Wheel
  6. Sometimes in Winter
  7. Smiling Phases
  8. God Bless the Child
  9. And When I Die
  10. You've Made Me So Very Happy

The Sunday night groups played on into the early hours of Monday morning, and after Johnny Winter’s blazing blues set, contemporary jazz-rock group Blood, Sweat & Tears came on with horns wailing and lead singer David Clayton-Thomas owning the stage. Blood, Sweat & Tears combined rock, blues, pop, jazz, and classical music forms with guitars and a horn section to create a hybrid sound that came to be known as jazz-rock. The band was founded in 1967, with ace session man/producer/vocalist/keyboardist Al Kooper asserting himself as leader, joined by Steve Katz (guitar), Jim Fielder (bass), Fred Lipsius (alto saxophone), Randy Brecker (trumpet), Jerry Weiss (trumpet/flugelhorn), Dick Halligan (trombone/flute), and Bobby Colomby (drums). Fielder had once played with the Mothers of Invention and Buffalo Springfield, and Kooper enjoyed a high profile from his work with Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix before forming the Blues Project with Steve Katz. As a result of this, the new band was instantly heralded and embraced by the music press and the counterculture after playing their first shows in New York City in late 1967. The group was quickly signed to Columbia Records, and they released their first album, Child is Father To The Man, in February 1968. As the group’s reputation was centered in New York, the album did not immediately catch fire commercially, and the band would have to tour extensively to build its success. Unfortunately, by this time the band was beset by problems as tensions among band members, present in the band’s earliest days, began to grow past the breaking point. As a result, Al Kooper left the band in early 1968 to concentrate on producing. Shortly thereafter, Brecker and Wiess also left the band, replaced by Lew Soloff (trumpet) and Chuck Winfield (trumpet/flugelhorn).

Blood, Sweat & Tears' debut album, Child is Father to the Man (Columbia, 1968).

Colomby and Katz found a solid replacement for Kooper in the powerhouse English-Canadian vocalist David Clayton-Thomas. With Kooper out, Dick Halligan settled in the keyboard slot and Jerry Hyman came in on trombone. After a two-week residency in New York’s Café Au Go Go, the reconstituted Blood, Sweat & Tears recorded their self-titled second album, which was duly released in December 1968. Produced by ex-Mother of Invention James William Guercio (who would go on to produce most of the similar jazz-rock fusion ensemble Chicago’s hit albums), the album was more pop-oriented than Child Is Father To The Man and included three huge hit singles, “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” David Clayton-Thomas’ “Spinning Wheel,” and Laura Nyro’s “And When I Die.” The album spent eight weeks at #1 on the Billboard chart, and won Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards, beating out The Beatles’ Abbey Road.

The band's second, self-titled release (Columbia, 1968) featured lead-singer David Clayton-Thomas and became an instant critical and popular success.

Riding the success of their #1 album, Blood, Sweat & Tears hit the road, thrilling audiences with their punchy live performances. In August 1969, the group triumphantly appeared at Woodstock, performing ten songs from their first two albums, all of which had received frequent airplay on FM radio. By the time they’d arrived at Max Yasgur’s alfalfa field, David Clayton-Thomas and his cohorts were ready to bring some heat to the chilly, wet August night. At around 1:45 am, the group began their set with a driving version of “More And More” from their second album. A cover of Randy Newman’s “Just One Smile” followed, which had been recorded for Child Is Father To The Man. This was followed in rapid succession by a cover of Joe Cocker’s “Something’s Coming On” (which the band would record for their third album Blood Sweat & Tears 3, released the following year), which segued into Al Kooper’s “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” from the first album. While the crowd was supportive, the band was dogged through the early part of their set by poor horn section intonation caused by the unceasing humidity in the air. This would be resolved to a certain extent in the second half of the set but never completely corrected, which would lead the group to give a thumbs-down to any participation in Michael Wadleigh’s documentary or its soundtrack album (in addition, Wadleigh’s cameras were allegedly ordered to stop filming after “Spinning Wheel” as BS&T manager Bennett Glotzer had never given permission for the band to be filmed). Moving into hit single territory, David Clayton-Thomas’ own“Spinning Wheel” was up next, and this pumped the band up for deliver the goods in the second half of the set, most of which was drawn from their second album. Another BS&T original kept the momentum going with guitarist Steve Katz’s “Sometimes In Winter,” and this flowed smoothly into a cover of Traffic’s “Smiling Phases.” The main set closed with a one-two punch, starting with the group’s moving arrangement of Billie Holiday’s jazz standard “God Bless The Child” (recorded for Child Is Father To The Man) and ending with a roaring version of the band’s current hit single, a cover of Laura Nyro’s “And When I Die”. For the encore, the band brought it home with an exuberant version of Brenda Holloway’s “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”, which was another huge hit single for the group.

Blood, Sweat & Tears experienced a degree of continued commercial success, along with other brass-rock bands of the time, such as Chicago and Electric Flag, but several missteps caused them to fall out of favor with their counterculture base by the early 1970s. They participated in a State Department tour of eastern Europe and played Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, which was seen as an act of selling out, and they compounded their image issues by providing music for the soundtrack of the Barbara Streisand comedy, The Owl and the Pussycat. They released another album of mostly covers, including Carole King’s “Hi-De-Ho,” but reviewers concentrated on their lost “hip” credibility rather than the music. Since the early 1970s, Blood, Sweat & Tears has continued to perform with a frequently changing lineup of musicians and varying musical styles. David Clayton-Thomas returned to Canada in 1972 and continues to tour and record as a solo artist. Steve Katz produced two albums for Lou Reed and later became a record executive. Dick Halligan is an active composer and arranger in the motion picture industry. Jerry Hyman left the band and now practices physical medicine in Rye, New Hampshire. Fred Lipsius continues to perform and record and has arranged and produced radio and TV commercials. Lew Soloff has performed with seemingly everyone in the business and was a faculty member at Juilliard and the New School in New York City. He passed away of a heart attack in 2015. Chuck Winfield teaches and lives in Maine. Bobby Colomby is the de facto owner of the Blood, Sweat & Tears name and oversees the current incarnation of the band.

Next performance: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young