|Born on: 29.12.1947
Died on: 05.04.1998
Cozy Powell was born in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England, and started playing drums in the school orchestra, thereafter playing along in his spare time to popular singles of the day. The first band he was in was called the Corals, and played each week at the Youth Club in Cirencester - he was a fantastic drummer even then (aged 15) and already had worked out an impressive drum solo. The nickname 'Cozy' was borrowed from the jazz drummer Cozy Cole.
The semi-professional circuit was next, with semi-pro outfit The Sorcerers, a vocal harmony pop band. The late nights and usual on-the-road exploits began to affect his education, and Powell left to take an office job in order to finance the purchase of his first set of Premier drums. The Sorcerers performed in the German club scene of the 1960s.
By 1968 the band had returned to England, basing themselves around Birmingham. Powell struck up friendships with fellow musicians like Robert Plant and John Bonham (both at the time unknowns in Listen), future Slade vocalist Noddy Holder, bassist Dave Pegg and a young guitarist called Tony Iommi. The Sorcerers now became Youngblood, and a series of singles were released in late 1968-69. The group then linked up with the Move bassist/singer Ace Kefford to form The Ace Kefford Stand. Powell also began session work. Powell with fellow Sorcerers Dave and Dennis Ball formed Big Bertha.
Powell also played with swamp rocker Tony Joe White at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970. Powell then landed the then highly prestigious drumming job with guitar icon Jeff Beck's group in April 1970. After the recording of two albums, Rough and Ready (October 1971) and Jeff Beck Group (July 1972), the band fell apart.
By late 1972 Powell had joined up with the Ball brothers again and with singer Frank Aiello to form Bedlam. One eponymous album was produced for Chrysalis Records (CHR1048) and released in August 1973. Powell also busied himself with extracurricular activities. Beck's studio producer had been impresario Mickie Most and Powell soon found himself drafted into many a session for artists signed to Most's RAK label, including Julie Felix, Hot Chocolate, Donovan and Suzi Quatro.
Around this period Most managed to persuade Powell to record an instrumental solo single. 'Dance With the Devil' became a smash and reached number 3 in the UK singles chart during January 1974. The track served to inspire a whole generation of youngsters to take up the drums.
To cash in on his chart success the drummer formed Cozy Powell's Hammer in April 1974.
Powell had another passion in life - a fascination with fast cars and motorbikes, and raced for Hitachi on the UK saloon car circuit for a few months.
In 1976 he joined Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. Powell, together with Blackmore, were the only constants in the band's line-up over the next five years, as Blackmore evolved the sound of the band from a neo-classical hard rock to a more commercial AOR sound. Rainbow's 1979 Down to Earth LP (from which singles Since You Been Gone and All Night Long are taken) proved to be the band's most successful album thus far, although Powell was concerned over the overtly commercial sound. Powell decided to leave Rainbow, although not before they headlined the first ever Monsters of Rock show at Castle Donington, England on August 16, 1980. The festival was Powell's last show with the band.
In 1980, when Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham died, Powell was one of several drummers considered by the band as a possible replacement for Bonham. The band decided against it and disbanded.
After Powell left Rainbow he worked with ex vocalist Graham Bonnet on Bonnet's new project called Graham Bonnet & the Hooligans, their most notable single being the UK top 10 single Night Games (1981), also on Bonnet's solo "Line Up" album.
Powell then performed with a number of major bands - Michael Schenker Group from 1981 to 1982, and Whitesnake from 1982 to 1984. In 1985 he started recording with Phenomena for their first album, which was released in 1986 when he joined up with Keith Emerson and Greg Lake as a member of Emerson, Lake & Powell. A stint with Gary Moore followed in 1989. His most well-known project was Black Sabbath from 1988 to 1991, and again from 1995 - 1996.
Powell made headlines when he appeared on the BBC children's programme Record Breakers where he set a world record for being the world's fastest drummer live on television.
Between late 1992 and early 1993, Powell put together an ocassional touring band using the old band name 'Cozy Powell's Hammer' featuring himself on drums, Neil Murray on bass, Mario Parga on guitar and Tony Martin on vocals and occasional rhythm guitar/synth module. The band performed throughout Europe and appeared on German T.V.
Powell along with Neil Murray were members of Queen guitarist Brian May's band, playing on the Back To The Light and Another World albums. Cozy played with Brian May opening for Guns N' Roses on the second American leg of their Use Your Illusion tour in 1993. The duo also served a spell with returning blues legend Peter Green in the mid nineties.
Cozy Powell died on April 5, 1998 following a car crash, driving his Saab 9000 at 104 mph in bad weather on the M4 motorway near Bristol, while talking to his girlfriend on his mobile phone. He was not wearing a seatbelt and was over the drink-drive limit.
He was living at Lambourn in Berkshire at the time and had returned to the studio shortly before his death to record with Fleetwood Mac co-founder Peter Green. By that time, he had been the drummer on at least 66 albums with minor contributions on many other recordings. Powell's death was a great loss to the world of popular music, and countless rock drummers have cited him as a major influence.