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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.

The band were recorded by influential Radio 1 DJ John Peel for his Top Gear radio show, gaining them valuable exposure.

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.

The group split in October 1971 with Farlowe joining Atomic Rooster and Clempson moving on to Humble Pie.

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.

Jon Hiseman
Dick Heckstall-Smith

Dave Greenslade
Organ, vocals
Tony Reeves
James Litherland
Guitar, vocals
Dave “Clem” Clempson
Guitar, vocals
Louis Cennamo
Mark Clarke
Bass, vocals
Chris Farlowe