Exclusive Excerpt 4: Jon Hiseman's Playing The Band



Pick up the brand new issue of Rhythm and you'll find Jon Hiseman talking all about his illustrious career behind the kit. Jon has chronicled his extensive experiences with the likes of Colosseum, Tempest and many more in his memoir Playing The Band.

Below, our fourth excerpt from the book charters the end of the mighty Colosseum.

The demise of Colosseum

Melody Maker's Chris Welch was at the Albert Hall concert and wrote a stinging review that reverberated throughout Colosseum and their management. The headline pulled no punches: "Colosseum — time for a rethink?" According to the MM scribe, the show got off to a good start, but: "...during Chris Farlowe's blood- curdling yell, we were listening to a noise machine that had seized up. Until The Pirate's Dream the band were playing well, but from then a slow rot set in." Even Jon's drum solo didn't escape criticism: "...it went on too long and he seemed to be treading water, reducing the impact." Coming from one of their biggest fans, it was just about as bad a review as it could be.

Secretly, some of Colosseum, Jon included, agreed with the review - Chris Welch had always supported the band and hitherto his reviews had been positive. He appreciated their risk-taking approach and their ability to produce music that sounded fresh and inspired. Perhaps three years of experimentation, personnel changes and continual touring had taken its toll. Had Colosseum possibly reached 'burn-out'?

….guitarist Peter Frampton had confirmed that he was leaving Humble Pie and Clem had received a formal offer to replace him. He was obviously tempted and met with Jon to talk it over. Jon clearly remembers how it went down: "When Clem came to me and told me of the offer, I said, without hesitation, you should take it...I'll fold Colosseum. The shit hit the fan for me following the Albert Hall concert. After that, I was just waiting for the excuse that no one would argue with too much — and Clem provided it. I remember feeling relieved, partly because I could now be sure of being present at the birth of our first child, our son Marcus. Clem saw it this way: "I was thoroughly disillusioned with what seemed a very contrived approach to writing and I just wanted to return to the simplicity of the blues." The sad, but unavoidable truth was - the Colosseum juggernaut had begun grinding to a halt well before this.

On the 6th of November 1971, Melody Maker trumpeted 'Colosseum Split' — with Jon citing 'musical problems' and asserting that the members of the group were all 'moving in different directions'.

For more from Jon pick up the latest issue of Rhythm and order yourself a copy of Playing The Band.

Rich Chamberlain

Rich is a teacher, one time Rhythm staff writer and experienced freelance journalist who has interviewed countless revered musicians, engineers, producers and stars for the our world-leading music making portfolio, including such titles as Rhythm, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, and MusicRadar. His victims include such luminaries as Ice T, Mark Guilani and Jamie Oliver (the drumming one).