Blood, Sweat & Tears Turn Backs On Communism
LOS ANGELES – Just arrived from their recent State Department tour of Yugoslavia, Rumania and Poland, members of Blood, Sweat & Tears indicated at a press conference here they were so overwhelmed by Communist police tactics that only a book and feature length film could adequately express their shock.
“We went over there with the idea of just how much so-called Communist fascism is American propaganda,” said David Clayton-Thomas, the group’s pudgy-faced lead vocalist. “And I found that the propaganda is pretty damn close to the truth. It’s scary.”
It soon became clear from remarks by Clayton-Thomas, drummer Bobby Colomby and guitarist Steve Katz that the State Department got its money’s worth.
The tour resulted in several examples of Rumanian police brutality captured on film, a major riot during a concert in Bucharest, and the conversion to Americanism of at least nine persons – all members of Blood, Sweat & Tears.
The press conference, called by the people at National General Picture Corp. who filmed the tour, also revealed that: •
- Clayton-Thomas triggered the Bucharest riot when, despite orders by the secret police, he tossed a gong into the audience.
- •An earlier performance so provoked Bucharest authorities that they issued a strongly worded “manifesto” to the American Embassy listing numerous outlandish restrictions against the group and their music. •
- A National General cameraman was beaten when he tried to photograph a large battalion of soldiers assembled outside the Bucharest concert hall. •
- Long hair is strictly forbidden on Rumanian men, but the rules are more relaxed in Yugoslavia. •
- The members of Blood, Sweat & Tears really do know how to improvise, according to Clayton-Thomas; it’s just that they do it “within a very literate and educated framework.” •
- Steve Katz, who at first balked at the tour because he did not want to officially represent the United States, became disenchanted with Communism after discovering that “nobody can own a store except for the state.”
Of the 50 or so persons attending the press conference, no more than a dozen were bonafide members of the press. The others appeared to be friends, corporate plants and other groupies who often would interrupt discussions of communist theory with questions like, “Tell us about your latest album,” or “How will this tour affect your music in the future.”
Clayton-Thomas, Colomby and Katz were in good spirits and good health, although Katz had developed a large, chip-like growth on his shoulder which he apparently felt should be knocked off before the conference began.
After viewing a few grainy minutes of film shot during the tour, Katz decided to start things off, not with a bang, but a whimper.
“I’d like to say something first of all,” he said first of all. “As for myself I came here today because I wanted to see what the film was going to be like, you know, just a little bit of it, just for a fun thing.
“I knew it was going to be a press conference but I was under the impression that it was a press conference by National General, not by Blood, Sweat and Tears. I think we should clear that up right away . . . it’s not a Blood, Sweat and Tears press conference by any means.”
When that statement was largely ignored by newsmen, Katz persisted by reading a junk telegram issued in advance by National General publicists.
“It says in this telegram that ‘This tour had a profound effect on the thinking of a group of young Americans as regards the youth revolution in this country and its relationship to youth around the world.’
“Well, I’d like to ask my representative from National General just what that means. That’s taking a lot for granted.”
This was too much for Lou Rudolph, the film’s producer, who stepped forward and told Katz, “Well, Steve, I’m sorry that your manager did not inform you that this was a press conference . . . if you’re not happy, why don’t you, you know, split.” Katz immediately bolted from his chair, but groans and cries of “Hey, that’s jive, man,” from the audience forced him sheepishly back.
The news conference then proceeded fairly smoothly and included those excerpts:
Are the kids over there turning on?
Colomby: No. No. They’re completely afraid. They’re so terrified of the police. You see, here, if you get arrested, say for grass, you’re not gonna go to jail for a hundred years. You can usually get out of it, somehow, I don’t know, it hasn’t happened to me, but it can happen. But over there, there’s no trial. If anything goes wrong, they just pick you up. You can’t have long hair in Rumania. If you do, the cops will come and they’ll, you know, shave your head and they’ll beat you up.
Clayton-Thomas: There’s a thing here we call due process of law, for whatever it’s worth. In other words, if the government wants to get Abbie Hoffman, they gotta drag him into court, and it can go on for years and years, and he can make a fortune off the publicity, you know, and it can go on and on and on. There – no such thing. If the government wants somebody, he disappears.
If a Rumanian wants to leave the country, if he’s married he must leave his wife behind to insure he will come back. If a couple wants to leave, and they’re on government business, they must leave their children behind as wards of the state until they come back.
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