A new documentary explores the downfall of “brass rock” progenitors Blood, Sweat, & Tears

Was it their tour of Eastern European countries in 1970?

Back in the late ’60s and early ’70s Blood Sweat & Tears were all the rage as the progenitors of what was then named ‘brass rock.’ They had a string of jazzy R&B hits with songs including “Spinning Wheel,” “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” and “And When I Die.” Then all things went sour.

A new documentary titled What The Hell Happened To Blood, Sweat & Tears? directed by John Scheinfeld (The U.S. vs. John Lennon, Who Is Harry Nilsson And Why Is Everybody Talking’ About Him? ), explores the reasons behind the band’s sudden downfall.

What happened? In 1970, at the height of their popularity, the socially conscious band agreed to go on a tour of Eastern Europe that was sponsored by the US State Dept. With the very unpopular Vietnam War still raging, the band was ridiculed for working with the Nixon administration and they were never able to regain a foothold. As Scheinfeld explains in the film, it turns out the band was coerced by the Nixon administration to go on the tour.

The meat of the documentary comes from 65 hours of rare footage from Blood, Sweat & Tears’ “Iron Curtain Tour,” where they played Communist Yugoslavia, Romania, and Poland, and also involves the “FBI, CIA, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Republicans and Democrats and the secret police of three nations.”

Scheinfeld is still working on the film, but he’s shared a work-in-progress clip featuring Jim Fielder, the band’s bass player, speaking at a State Department reception before the tour began, as well as footage of Colomby and guitarist Steve Katz talking politics with students in Yugoslavia, as well as performance footage from the tour.

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