Guide to British Music of the 1960s

 

Colosseum

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Drums - Jon Hiseman, Keyboards - Dave Greenslade, Saxophones - Dick Heckstall-Smith, Bass - Tony Reeves, Guitar - James Litherland

Colosseum was formed by Jon Hiseman and Dick Heckstall-Smith who had both been in the Graham Bond ORGANisation, Hiseman replacing Ginger Baker, and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Formed in 1968 and signed to the Fontana label, Colosseum fused jazz, blues and rock. The debut album Those Who Are About To Die Salute You even reached 15 in the UK charts. The band was less successful in the singles market. At the time, the record industry was moving away from singles to albums and Walking in the Park, a Graham Bond composition, was Colosseum's only release in the format.

A move to Vertigo was followed by the release of Valentyne Suite. This included the 16-minute title track and the album is widely seen as Colosseum's best. Valentyne Suite was the first release on the new Vertigo record label which became known for its progressive rock. After the first two albums, James Litherland and Tony Reeves left to be replaced by Dave "Clem" Clempson who was previously in Bakerloo and Mark Clarke. R&B vocalist Chris Farlowe also became a member of the band prior to the Daughter of Time album. Farlowe had previously been in the Thunderbirds with Dave Greenslade.

Colosseum now developed more of a rock approach with Daughter of Time and the launch of Colosseum Live. The band had established an excellent live reputation very quickly and had appeared in the film Supersession.

The band split after the release of the live album. Dave Greenslade reunited with Tony Reeves in Greenslade with Clem Clempson replacing Peter Frampton in Humble Pie. Jon Hiseman and Mark Clarke formed Tempest while Dick Heckstall-Smith formed a series of bands, often including the likes of Clempson and Hiseman in his recordings. Jon Hiseman formed Colosseum II in 1975 but this was not very successful despite the inclusion of Gary Moore on guitar. There was a reunion of Colosseum in 1997 with Farlowe on vocals.

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