How Cold War Politics Destroyed the Band Blood, Sweat & Tears

“There was a man sitting at the table reading a newspaper and drinking a cup of coffee,” Klein said by phone, “and after a while, he got up and left, and another person sat down at the same table and picked up the same newspaper and continued drinking the same cup of coffee.”

But things turned from comedy to tragedy at the Bucharest concerts, where audience members got too rowdy and were beaten by security guards. The second night, the band members were instructed to dial things down, and when they didn’t, the guards set dogs loose on the crowd.

“My father, in his naïveté, thought that if he got the camera people to film the policemen and the dogs attacking the spectators that it would make them stop,” Klein said. “But that was just stupid; that just made them angrier.” The crew had to smuggle its footage out of Romania, using blank reels of film as a decoy for officials to confiscate.

Back in the United States, the musicians came under fire for aiding the government, accused of being a “fascist rock band” by both the underground press and mainstream journalists. The trouble immediately became evident at a hastily arranged, hostile Los Angeles news conference.

“We came back saying, ‘Yeah, Nixon is awful, Vietnam is the worst thing in the world, but communism? You don’t want that here,’” Colomby said. “But back then, for the extreme left, that wasn’t acceptable to say.”

Henry Kissinger even sent Richard M. Nixon a memo about the tour, and the president scrawled a note at the bottom inquiring how “youth leaders might get the message.” On July 25, the band played a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden. Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies staged a protest, throwing horse manure onstage.

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