Hugely influential Progressive Rock act centred upon drummer/ lyricist Jon Hiseman. COLOSSEUM were founded in London during 1968 by ex-GRAHAM BOND ORGANIZATION and JOHN MAYALL’S BLUES BREAKERS man Hiseman alongside erstwhile BLUESBREAKERS colleagues bassist Tony Reeves and saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith. Previous to the BLUESBREAKERS, Reeves, Hiseman and keyboard player Dave Greenslade had been part of the WEZ MINSTER FIVE.
The COLOSSEUM line-up was completed by Greenslade, after a stint in THUNDERBIRD, and vocalist / guitarist Jim Roche. However, prior to recording the debut album Roche was exited in favour of James Litherland. The first record ‘For Those About To Die We Salute You’ broke the British top 20 as did the follow up of the same year ‘Valentyne Suite’.
Strangely, COLOSSEUM’s 1970 third album ‘The Grass Is Greener’ only saw a release in America and featured new guitarist Clem Clempson, formerly of BAKERLOO. Immediately prior to the call from COLOSSEUM Clempson had been assembling an un-named power trio with drummer COZY POWELL and bassist Dave Pegg. Litherland meanwhile departed to join MOGUL THRASH.
By the time of their third British album ‘Daughters Of Time’ Mark Clarke had replaced Reeves and the band had added lead vocalist Chris Farlowe (real name John Deighton). COLOSSEUM signed to Rock label Bronze for their fourth chart album ‘Colosseum Live’.
The band folded in October 1971. Greenslade founded the grandiose GREENSLADE bringing in his former band mate Reeves. The latter would join CURVED AIR in 1975. Farlowe opted for ATOMIC ROOSTER whilst Clempson, after a brief spell in SNAFU, teamed up with HUMBLE PIE.
Hiseman and Clarke forged the Heavy Rock act TEMPEST alongside noted Jazz-Rock guitarist Allan Holdsworth and former JUICY LUCY singer Paul Williams. Tempest issued two albums before Hiseman resurrected COLOSSEUM as COLOSSEUM II. Clarke went onto URIAH HEEP, RAINBOW and MOUNTAIN. One later session Heckstall-Smith was involved in was as percussionist on BRYAN ADAMS 1980 self titled debut.
Due to pressure from fans on the European mainland the mid 90’s found COLOSSEUM reforming for a series of 66 sold out concerts. Following these dates Clempson worked with CHRIS DE BURGH but by 1997 had returned to cut a brand new COLOSSEUM studio album ‘Bread And Circuses’.
COLOSSEUM toured extensively once more in 1999, later dates had the vocal position filled by Paul Williams of TEMPEST. Reeves and Heckstall-Smith also operated a Blues Rock project with former CURVED AIR guitarist Mike Jacques titled BIG CHIEF. The saxophonist would be reunited with Clempson in 1997, the pair performing as part of the 50th birthday celebration recordings for CREAM bassist JACK BRUCE and captured on the album ‘Sittin’ On Top Of The World’.
With the passing of Dick Heckstall-Smith COLOSSEUM regrouped for a tribute concert in honour of their late comrade, held on 6th June 2005 at the London Astoria. Guests paying homage by way of live performances included GARY MOORE, JACK BRUCE, MICK TAYLOR plus John Etheridge and John Marshall of SOFT MACHINE.
- Those Who Are About to Die Salute You – (1969)
- Valentyne Suite – (1969)
- The Grass Is Greener – (1970) [U.S. release only]
- Daughter of Time – (1970)
- Colosseum Live– (1971)
- LiveS The Reunion Concerts 1994 – (1995)
- Bread & Circuses – (1997)
- Tomorrow’s Blues – (2003)
- Live Cologne 1994 – (2003)
- Live05 – (2007)
- The Collectors Colosseum – (1971)
- Anthology – (2000) (2-CD collection)
- Morituri Te Salutant – (2009) (4-CD collection)