By Scott Iwasaki
Published: Thursday, July 2, 2009
Blood Sweat & Tears singer/guitarist Steve Katz rejoined the band
back in 2008 to celebrate the band's 40th anniversary.
To this day, he is still amazed at how much the band means to a lot of people.
"To think that people still like to hear the songs we did almost 42
years ago," said Katz during a telephone interview from his home in
Kent, Connecticut. "I remember the first show I did when I came back.
I walked on stage and people started to applaud. I looked behind me
because I didn't know who they were applauding for."
Katz was one of the original members of BS&T, which included
keyboardist/vocalist Al Kooper, trumpeters Randy Brecker and Jerry
Weiss, saxophonist Fred Lipsius, keyboardist Dick Halligan, bassist
Jim Fielder and drummer Bobby Colomby.
Throughout the years, the band lineup has gone through a bucketful of changes.
These days, the lineup features Katz, vocalist Rob Paparozzi,
guitarist Dave Gellis, keyboardist Glenn McClelland, bassist Gary
Foote, drummer Andrea Valentini, trumpeters Teddy Mulet and Steve
Jankowski, trombonist Jens Wendelboe and saxophonist Tom Timko.
Katz said he lived "in a bubble for 35 years," before rejoining BS&T.
In actuality, he was the vice president of Mercury Records, a
producer who worked with Lou Reed and was the director of Irish-music
label Green Linnet Records.
Not bad for a blues-loving folkie who cut his teeth in Greenwich Village.
"We made a conscious decision deciding what we wanted as a band,"
Katz said. "We were heavily influenced by the Buckihgham's album
'Time and Charges.' They used horns and that's where we got the idea."
Blood Sweat & Tears' contemporaries included Tower of Power, early
Chicago and the Average White Band, to name a few.
With the hits "You've Made Me So Very Happy," "Spinning Wheel" and
"And When I Die," all of which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot
100, BS&T hit the big time.
"We still play the hits," said Katz. "People want to hear them. But
we also play new stuff and some jazzy stuff.
"We have always had the tradition of stretching out," he said. "And
it's good to be able to do different things, and to have fans that
will allow us to that."
Sifting through the past for Katz is like unearthing a goldmine of memories.
"We were awarded Best Album by the Grammys in 1970 for our 1969
(self-titled) album," said Katz. "And the guy who gave us the Grammy
was Louis Armstrong. We also played the Monterey Pop Festival. And we
played the original Woodstock.
"But don't ask me about that because I can't remember," he said with
a laugh. "We played at something like 3 a.m."
One of the other fun memories was finding out the band had a No. 1
album with "Blood Sweat & Tears."
We would call Billboard to see what our album did that week," Katz
said. "And the first week we called, it was at No. 16. The next week
we called, the lady said the album wasn't on the charts. So, we hung
up and scratched our heads.
"Then she called back and said, 'I didn't think of looking at No. 1'.
And that's where we were. We went from No. 16 to No. 1 in a week."
Katz said he is grateful for fans who have continued to support BS&T.
"In the past couple of years, we have had very successful tours," he
said. "This year, with the economy the way it is, we still are seeing