Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Blood, Sweat & Tears

When one thinks of the obvious snubs of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the band Blood, Sweat & Tears doesn’t often come to mind.  That is not to say that it is difficult to make a strong case for their induction, only that one does not hear a great many artists rising up and saying that they were inspired by the band in the same way that is true for some others.  None of the members of the band had notable or long-lasting solo careers, and the band did not write their best-known hits (although they performed the songs extremely well and created definitive versions of the songs they covered).  The group never had a #1 hit, but like En Vogue and Credence Clearwater Revival, they had three #2 hits (Credence had more), having them back-to-back-to-back no less.  As a music historian, I find this sort of disconnect between importance as a group, their obvious abilities at performance and their abilities to secure top-notch songs, and their seeming lack of a burning sense of grievance on the part of a vocal and sizable portion of the music community in their not being honored or remembered particularly well puzzing, and so today I would like to tackle the worthiness of induction of perhaps the most famous group to ever base their band name on a (somewhat misremembered) quote by Winston Churchill.

The Influence Of Blood, Sweat & Tears

In many ways, the band Blood, Sweat & Tears was a somewhat less successful band in the vein of Chicago [1], combining big-band elements and jazz and orchestral sounds with a solid rock & roll sound.  Given the fact that even to this day the combination of jazz and pop and rock elements remains an important staple of music, this would suggest that the approach and blend that the band sought in their music is one that definitely remains worthwhile and important to this day, even if the band is not particularly well-known at present.  The band’s success was clearly instrumental in helping to bring about the 70’s sound that included a wide variety of elements brought together as part of a larger group effort, and they were part of a worthwhile community of acts that included not only Chicago but such acts as Santana and Steely Dan that has generally been remembered fondly for their musical ability and for their diverse instrumentation.  More contemporary acts like Ben Folds Five show the same interest in both pop/rock and jazz instrumentation that springs in part from the influence of Blood, Sweat & Tears, which is enough to be well-remembered.

Why Blood, Sweat & Tears Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

Besides the band’s distinctive and worthwhile mix of approaches, there are at least two aspects of the band’s career that deserve recognition.  For one, their ability to pick good songs to cover is part of the reason that Laura Nyro got inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame herself.  As a group that gave that obscure singer-songwriter a great part of her credibility as a hitmaker despite her inability to make hits for herself, they deserve a great deal of credit themselves as performers.  Indeed, their ability to take songs written by others–whether it be classical or jazz composers or folk and singer-songwriter musicians–and turn them into distinctive and creative and definitive cover versions is something that deserves to be appreciated and is an underappreciated aspect of musicianship in the rock & roll era.  It is one thing to praise a band for creating original songs that they perform, but a band that can recognize good songs written by others and perform these songs with flair and skill is worthwhile as well.  This was certainly the case with the band’s first three singles, which all went to #2:  “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” “Spinning Wheel,” and “And When I Die.”  With four studio albums (and an additional compilation) that have been certified at least gold and three additional top 40 hits that are worth remembering, this band is certainly one that deserves as spot in Cleveland.

Why Blood, Sweat & Tears Aren’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

It is mostly likely that the band isn’t yet in Cleveland because they did not have a great deal of celebrity status.  After their initial period of popularity, their creative blend of music seems to have been forgotten and only their biggest hits were remembered, without the context of having been part of a band with genuine skill as musicians and a distinctive and worthwhile blend of music.  These aspects, as well as the group’s massive hit singles, deserve to be better remembered.

Verdict:  Put them in.  They are a rare example of the early 70’s music scene that has not been inducted yet that is worthy of being inducted.  If Nyro deserves credit for writing hit songs, the people that made her songs hits deserve to be inducted too.

[1] See, for example:


About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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