Pioneering British jazz-rock drummer and producer Jon Hiseman died at the age of 73 after a battle against brain cancer, family and friends confirmed. His daughter, Ana Gracey, reported that he died peacefully earlier this morning.

Hiseman replaced Ginger Baker in the Graham Bond Organisation in 1966, and later joined John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, appearing on their 1968 album Bare Wires. That year he founded Colosseum, one of the first bands to blend blues, jazz and progressive-rock elements in an improvisational format. Through the years, the group featured other influential members, including Dave Greenslade, Chris Farlowe and Dick Heckstall-Smith. They released four albums in their first incarnation before splitting in 1971.

After his next band, Tempest, folded in 1974, Hiseman formed Colosseum II, featuring Gary Moore, Don Airey (later of Deep Purple) and Neil Murray (later in Whitesnake). Hiseman reformed Colosseum in 1994 and went on to work in production, while also becoming part of the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble. His latest project was JCM, featuring Mark Clarke and former colleague Clem Clempson, who released their debut album Heroes in April.

The band canceled a planned U.K. tour that same month, and noted on its website that Hiseman "was taken ill during the course of the tour and was discovered to have a cancerous brain tumor. He will be undergoing life-saving brain surgery as soon as possible and wishes you all to know how touched he is by the overwhelming show of support. It is our hope that he will be well enough to resume the tour later this year. Thoughts and prayers are with him and his family at this time.”

Clempson wrote on Facebook this morning, "Hard to believe that this could come to pass just a few weeks after we were playing together onstage with JCM. For all who worked with him he was a constant guiding light, inspirational and indefatigable, a true leader who will be greatly missed by his many colleagues and legions of fans. Thanks for everything Jon, RIP.”

Recalling his introduction to the full-time music business in 2014, Hiseman recalled how Bond had seen him perform in a London jazz club in 1966 and said, “if Ginger Baker ever leaves, he’s going to play drums.” Hiseman later told Bond, “I’m not a professional musician. I’ve no intention of becoming a professional musician. ...Graham was the ultimate rabbiter. He spent all of one night smoking enormous joints, which looked like bonfires, convincing me that this organization was the greatest organization. … Three days later, Ginger just left.”


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