One of the first bands to fuse jazz, rock & blues, Colosseum was formed in Spring 1968 by drummer Jon Hiseman with tenor sax player Dick Heckstall-Smith, who had previously worked together in The Graham Bond Organisation and John Mayall’s Blues Breakers
Old friends Dave Greenslade and Tony Reeves were recruited (on organ and bass respectively) and the lineup was completed – after lengthy auditions – with the addition of James Litherland on guitar and vocals.
Their first album, Those Who Are About to Die Salute You, was released by the Philips’ Fontana label in early 1969. This was followed later in the year by the Valentyne Suite LP, notable as the first release on Philip’s newly launched Vertigo label.
For The Grass Is Greener – released only in the US in 1970 – Dave “Clem” Clempson replaced James Litherland with Louis Cennamo replacing Tony Reeves on bass. Mark Clarke, in turn, replaced Cennamo within a month.
Vocalist Chris Farlowe was brought in to allow Clempson to concentrate on guitar.
Jon Hiseman formed a new group called Colosseum II in 1975, with a stronger orientation towards jazz-fusion rock. They released three albums before disbanding in 1978.
The 1971 lineup of Colosseum reunited in 1994. Dick Heckstall-Smith died on 17 December 2004.
Dave “Clem” Clempson