For a brief moment in time, Blood, Sweat & Tears were one of the biggest rock bands in America, scoring giant hits like “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” and “Spinning Wheel,” winning a Grammy for Album of the Year — despite facing off against the Beatles’ Abbey Road — and playing a triumphant set at Woodstock.
But at the pinnacle of their fame in 1970, they went on a State Department-sponsored tour of the Iron Curtain nations Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia. Thanks to the ongoing Vietnam War, it was a time of maximum distrust in government and the tour sparked a huge fan backlash. They were never able to regain the lost momentum and their fortunes rapidly waned throughout the Seventies.
The upcoming documentary What The Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears? will finally tell the band’s complete story, using 65 hours of unseen footage shot on the band’s infamous Iron Curtain tour, which was much more complicated than most fans understood at the time.
“Created with the full cooperation of Blood, Sweat & Tears,” reads a press release, “the film will overflow with great music, international political intrigue, compelling human moments, humor, and fresh insight into this strange never-before-told story.”
The film is being directed by John Scheinfeld, whose previous documentaries include The U.S. vs. John Lennon, Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?), and Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary.
“[Blood, Sweat & Tears drummer] Bobby Colomby and I happened to be chatting back in February and I asked him the question that became the title of our film,” John Scheinfeld tells Rolling Stone. “The story he shared sent chills through me as I connected it with what happened to John Lennon, as I chronicled in The U.S. vs. John Lennon, as well as the efforts of the current administration and its supporters to stifle dissent.”
“BS&T’s story is unique,” he continues, “in that the band was being squeezed from two sides: the U.S. government as it attempted to suppress/check/curb the band’s outspokenness against Nixon and the Vietnam War and then the mainstream and underground media that accused them of selling out and being a token of the same government they had spoken against…without knowing all the facts.”
Check out an exclusive clip from the movie that shows Blood, Sweat & Tears bassist Jim Fielder speaking at a State Department Reception prior to the tour, guitarist Steve Katz and Colomby talking politics with students in Communist Yugoslavia, and footage of the band playing “Something’ Comin’ On.”
The movie is still in production and producers are looking for photos and memorabilia of the band from 1968 to 1971. Anyone with that material can submit it to the movie’s official website.