Tempest was an English hard-rock supergroup on Bronze that released a self-titled album in 1973 with guitarist Allan Holdsworth, followed in 1974 by Living in Fear with PattoBoxer guitarist Ollie Halsall. Drummer Jon Hiseman directed the band between his time in Colosseum and Colosseum II.

Members: Allan Holdsworth (guitar, violin, vocals, 1972-73), Mark Clarke (bass, keyboards, vocals), Paul Williams (vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboards, 1972-73), Jon Hiseman (drums, percussion), Ollie Halsall (guitar, Moog synthesizer, piano, vocals, 1973-74)


Tempest formed in June 1972 when drummer Jon Hiseman and bassist Mark Clarke, both of the recently demolished Colosseum, teamed with guitarist Allan Holdsworth and singer/multi-instrumentalist Paul Williams.

Hiseman emerged in a late-period lineup of the Graham Bond Organization, where he replaced drummer Ginger Baker (who left to form Cream). When GBO split, Hiseman and saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith passed through John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers for the 1968 release Bare Wires, which also features bassist Tony Reeves.

In 1968, Hiseman, Heckstall-Smith, and Reeves formed Colosseum, which released the 1969/70 albums Those Who Are About to Die Salute You, Valentyne Suite , and Daughter of Time. On the last of those, a 19-year-old Clarke replaced Reeves (who later surfaced in Greenslade). After the four-sided 1971 release Colosseum Live, they crumbled. Heckstall-Smith cut a 1972 solo album, A Story Ended, which includes Hiseman and Clarke on select tracks, including one (“Crabs”) that features Williams on vocals.

Initially a bassist, Williams played in Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band along with (future Police) guitarist Andy Summers. Before they morphed into Dantalian’s Chariot, he jumped ship to the Bluesbreakers, where he replaced John McVie (who left to join Fleetwood Mac). Williams, in turn, parted for Reeves and missed Hiseman’s tenure, but continued backing Mayall on his 1968–71 solo albums. He cut the 1968 Decca single “My Sly Sadie” (b/w “Stop the Wedding”), produced by ex-Animals keyboardist Alan Price and released as the Paul Williams Set (an alteration of the Alan Price Set with drummer Alan White).

Williams joined Juicy Lucy on vocals for their 1970 second album Lie Back and Enjoy It. He and Juicy bassist Keith Ellis (ex-Koobas, Van der Graaf Generator) resurrected the Paul Williams Set for the 1971 Intercord release In Memory of Robert Johnson R.I.P., which also features guitarists Glenn Campbell (ex-Misunderstood), Alun Davies, and Spencer Davis. Williams also sang on the 1971 release Blue Whale by Aynsley Dunbar and returned to Juicy for their 1972 fourth album Pieces.

Holdsworth started in jazz-rockers ‘Igginbottom, which issued the 1969 Deram album ‘Igginbottom’s Wrench. He then surfaced in Sunship, an unrecorded improvisational group with (future Gilgamesh and National Health) keyboardist Alan Gowen and (future King Crimson) percussionist Jamie Muir. In 1972, Holdsworth backed Nucleus leader Ian Carr on his debut solo album Belladonna, produced by Hiseman.

Tempest purveyed bluesy hard rock: familiar territory to Williams but a deviation from the jazz-rock backgrounds of Hiseman and Holdsworth. Their name is defined as a violent storm, indicative of their intense interplay.

1973: Tempest

Tempest released their self-titled debut album in early 1973 on Bronze (UK, NZ), Island (Europe), and Warner Bros. (US). Side one climaxes on the Hiseman/Holdsworth number “Brothers,” a smoldering rocker built on a half-step riff that Jon pulverizes with fills. Clarke pitched in on the pair’s three preceding cuts — “Gorgon,” “Foyers of Fun,” and “Dark House” — all bluesy hard-rockers reminiscent of Robin Trower‘s output, right down to William’s Dewar-like vocals.

Side two features the Clarke/Hiseman co-write “Strangeher” and three cuts with outside contributions, including Hiseman’s “Upon Tomorrow,” co-written with ex-Colosseum guitarist Clem Clempson. Clarke sings on the Fender Rhodes-laden ballad “Grey and Black,” his co-write with one Susie Bottomley. Holdsworth wrote “Up and On” with John Edwards, a later sideman to Peter Green and bassist in Status Quo.

Hiseman produced Tempest at Air Studios during October–November 1972 with engineer John Punter, whose credits include 1969–71 albums by Caravan, East of Eden, Hunter Muskett, Keef Hartley Band, Nazareth, Sam Apple Pie, Satisfaction, Savoy Brown, Trapeze, and Walrus. Concurrent with Tempest, he worked on albums by Ann Odell, Bryan Ferry, Jonesy, Osibisa, Roxy Music, and Rupert Hine. The assistant engineer, Denny Bridges, earned his first credits on contemporary albums by Brian Eno (Here Come the Warm Jets), Cockney Rebel (The Human Menagerie), Kiki Dee, and Sassafras. Under the alias Denim Bridges, he played guitar in the Third Ear Band.

Tempest sports a half-gatefold flap sleeve designed by Fabio Nicoli, who illustrated the band’s logo: a terrified gorgon. Nicoli also did graphics for 1973/74 albums by Chris De Burgh, Groundhogs (Solid), John Martyn, Magma (Köhntarkösz), Shoot, Stray Dog, and Tony Hazzard.

The cover features a circular painting split in two halves. The bottom half (visible with the flap down) shows a one-eyed, electrified jelly sea monster. The top half (revealed when open) shows neon waves spun from a ribbed vortex of orbs. The painter, German artist Mati Klarwein, also did covers for numerous North American soul, rock, and jazz artists, including Buddy Miles, Chambers Brothers, Earth Wind & Fire (Last Days and Time), Miles Davis (Bitches Brew), Moe Koffman, Santana, and Symphonic Slam.

Rock photographer Fin Costello (Argent, Esperanto, Isotope, Uriah Heep) took the back cover member pics, each tinted in a different color: red (Williams), blue (Clarke), purple (Hiseman), and yellow (Holdsworth).

Bronze issued one single in the Japanese market: “Up and On” (b/w “Grey and Black”).

Lineup Change 

On June 1, 1973, guitarist Ollie Halsall joined Tempest as a fifth member. He was fresh off a three-album stint with Patto, which disbanded after cutting a long-vaulted fourth. They were a spinoff of Timebox, his first of three bands with singer Mike Patto. (They would eventually reunite.)

One day into Halsall’s tenure, Tempest played a concert at Golders Green Hippodrome, London, for a BBC broadcast. With the twin attack of Holdsworth and Halsall, the announcer described them as “a left-handed and right-handed guitarist trading notes.” The show has been bootlegged on multiple CDs. In 2005, the nine-song set was packaged with the two studio albums as Under the Blossom / The Anthology on Arcàngelo (Japan) and Castle Music (Europe). The BBC set features one improvised piece (“Drum Solo”) and six numbers from Tempest, including a 15-minute rendition of “Brothers” with a dueling guitar midsection.

In July 1973, Tempest plated the Summer Rock Festival at the Radstadion in Frankfurt, Germany. The two-day event (21–22) featured sets by Back Door, Curved Air, Faces, Gentle Giant, Heavy Metal Kids, Marsha Hunt, Rory Gallagher, Sly & the Family Stone, and the Spencer Davis Group with Hardin & York. (Several acts billed for the event — Black Sabbath, Canned Heat, Paul McCartney & Wings — were no-shows).

Tempest lasted briefly as a five-piece before Holdsworth, who didn’t want to play alongside another guitarist, quit the band. He next appeared on 1975 albums by Soft Machine (Bundles) and Tony Williams’ New Lifetime (Believe It). Meanwhile, Williams dropped from the music scene, cutting Tempest down to a power trio of Halsall, Clarke, and Hiseman. They recorded a second album with Halsall on vocals.

1974: Living in Fear

Tempest’s second album, Living in Fear, appeared in April 1974 on Bronze. Halsall contributed the fiery opener “Funeral Empire” and two additional songs: the title track and “Waiting for a Miracle.” He co-wrote “Yeah Yeah Yeah” with Hiseman, who otherwise sat out the writing process. Clarke submitted three songs (“Stargazer,” “Dance to My Tune,” “Turn Around”), co-written with his off-stage partner, Susie Bottomley. The album includes one cover, The Beatles‘ suitably rocky “Paperback Writer.”

Sessions took place during October–November 1973 at Air Studios with producer and Bronze label founder Gerry Bron, who produced most of Colosseum’s output. Living In Fear was engineered by Geoff Emerick, a one-time tech hand for Apple Records who recently worked on albums by Matthew Fisher, Shoot, Stealers Wheel, and Tír na nÓg. Ex-Grapefruit guitarist Peter Swettenham is credited as a tape op.

Living In Fear sports a blue die-cut cover with an enlarged, white outline of the gorgon. The inner-sleeve features red-tinted performance pics of Tempest by Costello. Fabio Nicoli Associates, the firm behind the design, also takes credit for 1973/74 covers by Stray, Refugee, Vinegar Joe, Premiata Forneria Marconi (L’isola di Niente), and Emerson Lake & Palmer (the Giger die-cut middle-gate on Brain Salad Surgery).

Bronze issued “Paperback Writer” as a single in France, backed with “Stargazer.” In Japan, “Waiting for a Miracle” appeared on the b-side, which Halsall rerecorded the following year on Below the Belt, the first album by his subsequent band Boxer.

After Tempest

Jon Hiseman produced the 1975 Nucleus albums Alleycat and Snakehips Etcetera, released on Vertigo. He played snare drum alongside Bill Bruford and Phil Collins (cymbal) on “Hunters,” an interlude on the 1975 RSO release Peter and the Wolf, a jazz-rock adaptation of Sergei Prokofiev’s 1936 children’s symphonic fairy tale.

In 1976, Hiseman formed Colosseum II, a jazz-rock band with guitarist Gary Moore. They released three albums: Strange New Flesh, Electric Savage, and Wardance. In 1978, they performed classical-rock pieces composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber for the MCA release Variations.

Ollie Halsall reconnected with Patto, who spent the time apart fronting Spooky Tooth in lieu of Mike Harrison. With Patto, Tooth recorded The Mirror, the seventh and final album in their disjointed existence. Halsall and Patto formed Boxer, which issued a 1975 album on Virgin and recorded a second before Halsall quit the project. He later played in The Ruttles and made a solo album.

Mark Clarke, who briefly played with Bron’s main client, Uriah Heep, retained ties with that band’s keyboardist, Ken Hensley. Clarke played on Hensley’s second solo album, Eager to Please, which contains a cover of “Stargazer” plus an additional Clarke composition, “In the Morning.” He then joined the 1976 one-off Natural Gas with ex-members of Humble Pie and Badfinger. In the ’80s, he recorded with Ian Hunter and Billy Squier.



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