On Monday afternoon April the 6th, 1998, I received an Email from Neil Murray, a good friend of Cozy’s and someone who I had a good relationship with. Neil informed me that Cozy Powell was killed in a car crash the night before. I immediately rung up Neil to make sure this wasn’t some sort of joke Email, and he told me it was true.
It would appear that Cozy was alone in his Saab 9000 when he lost control on the M4 motorway, and crashed between junctions 18 and 19 near Bristol. He died of his injuries in the hospital. I’m told that weather had a part in this, but I can’t confirm this.
On Wednesday afternoon the 8th, I got a phone call from Cozy’s girlfriend Shari. She informed me that the funeral arrangements are extremely private, and it will be family only; that kind of thing. The funeral itself will be Saturday April 18th. It is hoped a much larger memorial service will be held at a later date. When that is decided, information on it will be publicized here.
I received an Email on Sunday the 19th from Neil Murray giving some details of Cozy’s Funeral. If you’d like to read that, it is below.
A personal thought: Cozy had just recovered from a foot accident he suffered which took him off the Malmsteen tour, and it’s a damn shame. Truly is. I had only known Cozy for a short while, since around November of 1997, when we started talking about doing the web site, and I’ve never met him, however, I found him easy to work with, and a really great chap. Cozy, never met ya, but I’ll miss ya! If you have any of the albums Cozy recorded on, get ’em out and give ’em a spin in honor of Cozy.
I’ve had several Emails asking about using pictures from this site in tributes and news articles. Feel free, just let me know where it’s published so I can link to it.
Joe Siegler – Webmaster
The Official Cozy Powell Web Site
Neil Murray on Cozy’s Funeral
On Sunday the 19th of April, I received the following Email from Neil Murray after attending Cozy’s funeral.
Cozy’s funeral took place on Saturday 18 April at a crematorium in Wiltshire, which is about 90 miles west of London. It was a simple service, with hymns and prayers, as well as a reading by a friend of Cozy’s, keyboard player Jim Johnson, and an emotional tribute by one of Cozy’s closest friends, Frank Aiello, who was the singer with Bedlam and Hammer. The service ended with ‘Let It Be’ by the Beatles. There were dozens of floral arrangements and wreaths, with messages of sympathy from Tony Iommi, Geoff Nicholls, Tony Martin, David Coverdale and many others. Those attending in person included Brian May, Jeff Beck, Peter Green, Don Airey, Glen Tipton (Judas Priest), Denny Ball (Bedlam), Spike Edney and Jamie Moses (Brian May Band) along with family members and other close friends. There are no definite plans for a memorial/tribute event, but I’m sure that something will be organised after people have had time to get over the initial shock of Cozy’s death.
Neil played with Cozy Powell in many bands. Some of them are Black Sabbath, Whitesnake, Brian May Band, Peter Green’s Splinter Band, and many others.
Neil’s Tribute to Cozy
I woke up on Monday morning to the terrible news that Cozy had been killed, and I don’t think it has registered properly yet, three days later. I can’t believe that someone who was my main musical partner in recent years, and who I regarded as one of my best friends, had gone forever. Even after the hundreds of phone calls from friends and fellow musicians and reading the obituaries about him in newspapers, it still seems like a bad dream that we’ll all suddenly wake up from.
For those who don’t know, I played with Cozy in Black Sabbath, Whitesnake, Brian May’s band, his own group Hammer, Peter Green’s Splinter Group, as well as many sessions and concerts with such people as Steve Vai, Paul Rodgers, Yngwie Malmsteen, Robert Palmer, Jimmy Barnes, Jon Lord and Glen Tipton. I think we were a powerful and tight rhythm section, though I was definitely following his lead and (hopefully) adding to the drive that came naturally to him. He was possibly the most powerful drummer I have played with (and there have been quite a few), and he always gave 100% of his energy and commitment to whatever he played on. He had a really great drum sound, and always tried to get ‘his’ sound captured on record, which used a lot of room acoustic to achieve a huge sound. (Though some producers, such as on ‘Forbidden’ or ‘Phenomena’, chose not to use his trademark sound, which disappointed him and many listeners).
He was virtually an equal partner with Tony Iommi in Black Sabbath around the time of ‘Headless Cross’ and ‘Tyr’, and had a big say in the direction of the band and the songwriting. He would have been part of the ‘Dehumanizer’ lineup that followed if it had not been for an accident where his horse had a heart attack and crushed him against a car.
Alhough he was mostly known as a hard rock/heavy metal drummer, he was into many other types of music, but didn’t get as much chance as he would have liked to play different styles once he was stereotyped as a hard rock player. He made it very easy for me to sound good, as he was so solid, but unfortunately sometimes solid, powerful, in-the-pocket drumming is not seen as being as exciting as more flashy shows of technique.
Cozy liked to put on a very visual show as well as just the music, and he became famous for his drum solos, which incorporated explosions, strobes and flame jets, which many other drummers copied, and they usually included him playing along to pieces of music such as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.
I first saw Cozy playing with Tony Joe White at the Isle of Wight festival in 1970 (just the two of them, no rehearsal), then quite a few times in the next two years with the Jeff Beck Group, which I was a big fan of. I became friendly with their bassist, Clive Chaman, and when he was playing with Cozy’s band Hammer in 1974/5, I got the chance to deputise for him on a few occasions, which later directly led on to me playing with Whitesnake and Gary Moore, quite apart from all the projects I did with Cozy in the ’80s and ’90s.
Hammer was put together after the success of his solo singles ‘Dance With The Devil’ and ‘The Man In Black’, which led to him becoming one of the best-known drummers in the UK,though perhaps he was never as well-known in the States. He was perhaps the most well-known and idolised drummers in Japan, where he was recently voted No. 1 by the readers of ‘Burrn!’ magazine.
He was well-known for his love of fast cars and motorbikes, but it was less known that he had a deep love of animals and the countryside, and he was happiest to be by himself in the peace and quiet of the Berkshire countryside, going for long walks or riding horses. He had gone into partnership with a trainer of horses and was very excited about this new direction in his life.
It is very likely that after having had to drop out of a world tour with Yngwie Malmsteen recently, the next major project would have been touring again with Brian May, on whose forthcoming album ‘Another World’ he plays on most tracks.
I think Cozy will be missed by just about everyone that met him, because of his energy, his humour and his strength of character. He is irreplaceable.
Thank you Cozy for letting me have the privilege of working with you and being your friend.