Jon Hiseman, Colosseum Drummer, Dies at 73

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Jon Hiseman

The British drummer Jon Hiseman, best known for his association with the prog-jazz-rock band Colosseum, died June 12 following a battle with brain cancer. Hiseman was 73. The place of death was not reported but Hiseman recently underwent an operation to remove a brain tumor.

Born in London on June 21, 1944, Hiseman began his professional career in the mid-’60s playing sessions and then replaced Ginger Baker in the Graham Bond Organisation, an influential British blues band. He also played with organist/singer Georgie Fame during this period and then John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, appearing on the group’s 1968 Bare Wires album.

That same year, Hiseman became a founding member of Colosseum, recording five albums with the band: Those Who Are About to Die Salute You (1969), Valentyne Suite (1969), The Grass Is Greener (1970), Daughter of Time (1970) and Colosseum Live (1971).The band split in 1971 and Hiseman formed Tempest with guitarist Allan Holdsworth and  Colosseum bassist Mike Clarke in 1973. They released two albums: a self-titled 1973 debut and Living in Fear in 1974.

Related: A chat with John Mayall

After that band quit, Hiseman formed Colosseum II with guitarist Gary Moore, keyboardist Don Airey and others. The band, which underwent several personnel changes, released three albums—Strange New Flesh, Electric Savage and War Dance—before splitting in 1978.

Hiseman also continued his session work during the 1970s, appearing on two solo albums by Jack Bruce. After the demise of Colosseum II, Hiseman concentrated on jazz and fusion, working extensively with his wife, saxophonist Barbara Thompson. He also recorded many TV and film soundtracks.

Jon Hiseman in more recent years

In 1974, Hiseman, Thompson and other musicians formed United Jazz + Rock Ensemble, which lasted for 27 years. That group released 14 albums, all on Mood Records. They split in 2002 when Thompson contracted Parkinson’s disease. Several notable jazz musicians, including Kenny Wheeler and Eberhard Weber, worked with the group.

Colosseum reunited in 1994, recording Bread and Circuses (1997), Tomorrow’s Blues (2003) and Live05 (2007).

Hiseman also released two solo albums, A Night in the Sun (1982) and About Time Too! (1991). In 2017 he formed a new band, JCM, which released Heroes this year.

Watch Colosseum play “Take Me Back to Doomsday” live in 1970

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