April 5, 1998 – Colin Trevor Cozy Powell/Colin Flooks (birthname) was born December 29th 1947 in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, and was adopted. He started playing drums at age 12 in the school orchestra.
The first band Powell was in, called the Corals, played each week at the youth club in Cirencester. At age 15 he had already worked out an impressive drum solo. The stage name ‘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 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 Tony Iommi. The Sorcerers now became Young Blood, and a series of singles were released in late 1968–69. The group then linked up with The Move’s bassist/singer Ace Kefford to form The Ace Kefford Stand. Five recorded tracks are available on the Ace Kefford album ‘Ace The Face’ released by Sanctuary Records in 2003. Powell also began session work. Powell with fellow Sorcerers Dave and Denny Ball formed Big Bertha.
By 1970 he played with swamp rocker Tony Joe White at the Isle of Wight Festival and went on to work with the Jeff Beck Group, Rainbow, Graham Bonnet & The Hooligans, Gary Moore, Robert Plant, Whitesnake, Brian May, Emerson,Lake and Powell, Black Sabbath and as a soloist, top session player and freelance drummer.
To cash in on his chart success the drummer formed Cozy Powell’s Hammer in April 1974. The line-up included Bernie Marsden (Whitesnake/Jethro Tull on guitar), Clive Chamen (bass), Don Airey (keyboards) and Frank Aiello (Bedlam) on vocals. Clive Chamen was replaced on bass by Neil Murray in the band in early 1975 for the RAK Rocks Britain Tour. “Na Na Na” was a UK No. 10 hit, and another single “Le Souk” was recorded but never released. Sharing a love of the power-trio set up (Cream), Cozy Powell formed a band with guitarist Clem Clempson and bassist Greg Ridley (Humble Pie), but when this fell apart Cozy temporarily quit the music business to take up motorcycle racing.
In 1975 he joined Rainbow. Powell and Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple) 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/heavy metal 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; however, 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 16 August 1980. The festival was Powell’s last show with the band.
After Powell left Rainbow he worked with vocalist Graham Bonnet (he too an ex-Rainbow member) 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. For the rest of the 1980s, Powell assumed short-term journeyman roles with a number of major bands – Michael Schenker Group from 1981 to 1982, and Whitesnake from 1982 to 1985. In 1985 he started recording with Phenomena for their self-titled first album, which was released the same year, when he joined up with Keith Emerson and Greg Lake as a member of Emerson, Lake & Powell. He also worked briefly with another new supergroup named Forcefield along with Bonnet and later Tony Martin on vocals, former Ian Gillan Band Ray Fenwick and former Focus Jan Akkerman on the guitars, Neil Murray and later Laurence Cottle on bass. Cottle would eventually join as a session player for the recording of Black Sabbath’s Headless Cross and again was replaced by Murray following that tour.
Powell worked with Gary Moore in 1989, followed by stints with Black Sabbath from 1988 to 1991, and again in 1994–1995. Between late 1992 and early 1993, Powell put together an occasional 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 television. Powell made headlines in 1991 when he appeared on the BBC children’s programme Record Breakers, where he set a world record for the most drums (400) played in under one minute, live on television.
Powell along with Neil Murray were members of Brian May‘s band, playing on the Back to the Light and Another World albums. He played with 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 blues guitarist Peter Green in the mid-nineties. Powell briefly joined Yngwie Malmsteen for the album Facing the Animal in 1997. Powell’s last recording session was for Colin Blunstone‘s The Light Inside, alongside Don Airey, which was released shortly after Powell’s death. The final solo album by Cozy Powell Especially for You was released in 1998 after his death, and featured American vocalist John West, Neil Murray, Lonnie Park, Michael Casswell and others.
Powell died on 5 April, 1998 following a car accident while driving his Saab 9000 at 104 mph (167 km/h) in bad weather on the M4 motorway near Bristol. He had been dating a married woman who was having troubles with her husband. Upset, she phoned him on 5 April 1998 and asked him to come quickly to her house which was approximately 35 miles away. As he was driving to her house she phoned him again and asked “Where are you?” He informed her he was on his way and then she heard him say “Oh shit!” followed by a loud bang.
Powell was ejected through the windscreen and died at the scene.According to the BBC report, at the time of the crash Powell’s blood-alcohol reading was over the legal limit, and he was not wearing a seat belt, in addition to talking with his girlfriend on his mobile phone. The official investigation also found evidence of a slow puncture in a rear tyre that, it was suggested, could well have caused a sudden collapse of the tyre with a consequent loss of control of the car. He was 50.
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. At the time of death Cozy had recently had to pull out of tour rehearsals with Yngwie Malmsteen, having suffered an injury in a motorcycle accident. One of his last phone calls, to Joe Geesin (his fanclub editor), was to express distress about this, to describe the physio treatment he was undergoing, and to voice his enthusiasm for the then forthcoming Brian May tour.
A memorial plaque in Cirencester was unveiled on January 7th, 2016, in a ceremony led by Brian May with Suzi Quatro, Bernie Marsden, Neil Murray, Don Airey and Tony Iommi, also in attendance.
Powell appeared on at least 66 albums, with contributions on many other recordings. Many rock drummers have cited him as a major influence. Considered to be one of England’s finest drummers and very much in demand for rock and pop records, Cozy is legendary for his heavy-hitting style that he made to work with many kinds of rock music, whether it be for the thundering pop productions or the softer rock ballads
(Cozy died in hospital following a car crash, driving his Saab 9000 in bad weather on the M4 motorway near Bristol. While talking to his girlfriend on his mobile phone, he lost control and crashed into the central barriers.