Blood, Sweat & Tears’ 1970 State Department-sponsored tour of Iron Curtain countries Yugoslavia, Romania and Poland is the subject of a new documentary, What The Hell Happened to Blood, Sweat & Tears?, opening in theaters in New York and Los Angeles Friday.
The film features interviews and archival footage from the controversial tour, which resulted in the band suffering backlash from fans. While it may not have been the best decision to go on that tour, BST drummer and co-founder Bobby Colomby says they really didn’t have the option not to do it.
“We just did a tour because (lead singer) David (Clayton-Thomas) didn’t have a green card anymore, and we couldn’t play in the United States and David’s Canadian,” Colomby tells ABC Audio. “So it was, you know, the State Department saying, ‘We’ll get you the green card, can you do us a favor?’”
He described it as “quid pro quo in the classic sense.”
Colomby says while there were definitely issues on the tour, he does have positive memories of the trek, especially the people. But he notes, “It was horrifying in certain aspects, especially Romania, which was dark ages.”
The political backlash that followed from both the right and the left really surprised the band, whose self-titled second album beat The Beatles’ Abbey Road for the Album of the Year Grammy. Colomby says it was very out of the ordinary for a band that tried to stay out of politics.
“You know, it’s funny, we weren’t a political group,” he says. “We were just truly, you know, as David says in the beginning, we’re just musicians. We’re just trying to play music, influence other musicians make stuff that people will enjoy.”
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