Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

COLOSSEUM

UK jazz-rock group formed '68, leader/drummer Jon Hiseman (b 21 June '44, London). Other founder members were Dick Heckstall-Smith (reeds; b 26 Sep. '34, Ludlow), Dave Greenslade, keyboards; Tony Reeves, bass; guitarist Jim Roche, soon replaced by James Litherland. Hiseman and Heckstall-Smith had worked with pioneers Graham Bond and John Mayall; Greenslade with Chris Farlowe, others. First lineup (with Litherland) made LPs Those Who Are About To Die and Valentyne Suite '69; both reached UK top 20 albums. Litherland left to join Mogul Thrash, replaced by Dave 'Clem' Clempson (ex-Bakerloo, a Tamworth-based blues trio); this lineup promoted Valentyne Suite, but Reeves left mid-'70 (formed own shortlived label Greenwich Gramophone Co.), replaced by Mark Clarke, and Farlowe was enlisted, taking over vocal chores previously shared by Greenslade and Litherland or Clempson. This final lineup lasted another year and albums The Daughter Of Time Is Truth '70, Live '71 (stayed longer in UK top 20 than any of the others) and Collectors' Colosseum '71, released a month after they folded. Clempson joined Humble Pie, replacing Peter Frampton; Farlowe joined Atomic Rooster; Greenslade formed his own eponymous band. Hiseman formed Tempest with Clarke, singer Paul Williams (ex-Zoot Money), guitarist Allan Holdsworth (later Soft Machine): LP Jon Hiseman's Tempest '74 was followed by departure of Williams and Holdsworth; guitarist Ollie Halsall joined and the trio made Living In Fear before splitting mid-'74. Hiseman then formed Colosseum II mid-'75 with completely new lineup: Don Airey, keyboards; guitarist Gary Moore (ex-Thin Lizzy), Neil Murray on bass (later National Health, Whitesnake), vocalist Mike Starrs (later Lucifer's Friend). This group made Strange New Flesh '76; Murray and Starrs left; Moore assumed vocal duties and bassist John Mole joined for albums Electric Savage and Wardance, both '77. In '78 Moore went back to Thin Lizzy (he had been moonlighting with them); Airey's guitarist brother Keith joined for the death throes late '78 but then Airey himself left to join Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. Well-liked by rock critics but with unstable lineups, Colosseum's jazz leanings probably kept them from greater commercial success. Hiseman met his wife, saxophonist/composer Barbara Thompson, in New Jazz Orchestra '65; she played on two Colosseum LPs; they were founder members of United Jazz and Rock Ensemble '75 and he has worked in her fusion quartet Paraphernalia since '79. Colosseum reunion '94 saw the most famous lineup playing greatest hits on tour, video, CD. Bread And Circuses '98 on Cloud Nine was the first studio album in 26 years.