It was a great day in Cirencester – a great turn-out and a great showing of love for our dear pal Cozy Powell. Along with my best mate Tony Iommi and Suzi Quatro and an impressive bunch of his old colleagues we unveiled a blue plaque, permanently honouring this son of Cirencester.
After this there was a reception and lots of speeches – from people who knew him at all points of his life. I had written some notes – but of course I didn’t stick to them when I spoke. Here’s my text of stuff I intended to say !
Cozy was one of those people who never had a moment’s doubt about who he wanted to be. He was a drummer through and through. He never knew his real Mum and Dad, so perhaps made his own role-model. Grew up listening to every drummer he could … many of them Jazz, but had a vision in his head of what kind of drumming HE wanted to create.
I’m a guitarist, so in a sense I have a different point of view from a drummer. But the first place a guitarist looks for to anchor himself to is a great drummer. So it’s a great vantage point.
Many of today’s young musicians quote US as influences now .. but I know Roger would endorse me saying that Hard Rock Drumming was defined by a generation just ahead of us. Similar age actually, but they got stuck in professionally at an earlier age !
The backing to early Rock and Roll records was actually quite light and syncopated … like Elvis Presley records, Bill Haley … it was quite Jazzy … drum sticks were held loosely with the thumbs — lots of wrist action. The body stayed still.
But with the second wave, led quite largely by the British, a new feeling about ALL-OUT High Intensity drumming – along with all-out high intensity guitar playing – was forming in the air. Most of our generation were inspired by the new LOUD hard hitting style … largely defined by Carmine Appice, John Bonham, and COZY POWELL. The style is epitomised by actually hitting the drums hard and moving a lot of air, the sticks are held in a firm embrace by the whole hand, and the WHOLE BODY is brought to bear on the action that makes the hits on those drum skins.
There’s a kind of unstoppable rhythm that you can see in the evolved Rock Drummer’s action. There is so much movement, and it’s so cyclic, that it’s almost impossible for him to hit something NOT in time. You can see it in Roger Taylor, my own colleague in Queen. You can see it in Matt Sorum in Guns n’ Roses, Chad Smith in Chili Peppers, and in Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters. The drummer becomes a machine, but more than a machine, a vehicle for the all-out passion of someone living and breathing the song. It’s not just about how hard the drums are hit … it’s a physical magic that comes from passion and commitment. Cozy was an immensely PASSIONATE drummer.
My own association with Cozy starts properly backstage with Queen at Hyde Park, 1976. He surprised me by saying I was one of the musicians he’d most like to work with. So when I organised a Guitar Legends concert in Seville a while later, it was Cozy that I called to do drums. We had an amazing time. He was totally inspiring as I had hoped … for all the guitarists.
And when we lost Freddie, and I plunged into touring with my own band, it was Cozy I called – he’d made me promise I would. We did loads of shows together, and we recorded together with great joy and creativity. He was a wonderful friend and ALWAYS a boost for my sometimes failing confidence. “Fabulous ! We’ll nail it – loud .. hooligan ! Just roll it !” I can hear him thundering away in Resurrection in my head. In fact I think I’ll head off and watch it on YouTube right now !!
Cozy was a lot more than a drummer … he was a fine human being. Always considerate, generous and compassionate, he dealt fairly with people and with other animals too.
One of my favourite images of him is from his own proud accounts … him dealing with the Hunts when they attempted to trespass on his property. He was out with his gun, and stood defiantly with the cry “Get Orf My Laaand !” And they did !!!
Born in Cirencester, it’s very fitting he has a proper memorial here … a trigger to focus people’s memories and love for the man.
I loved him like a brother. And still miss him greatly. He had a wonderfully focussed life … played with a whole catalogue of Rocks’ greatest … From Ritchie Blackmore to Tony Iommi, to Jeff Beck … from Rainbow to Black Sabbath to his own solo hit, Dance with the Devil. Did I mention he was a brilliant demon race driver ?
THANKS FOR doing this … Mark – Mr. Mayor – Town Council – Rosella Amadori – and the Civic Society.
He was a son of Cirencester, a brilliant soul – a fantastic passionate Drummer, and a shining soul … Let him always be remembered here !
Bless ya’ Cozy ! Great Man !
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