COZY POWELL - UNVEILING OF MEMORIAL PLAQUE
Cirencester Corn Hall
Thursday 7th January 2016
Cozy Powell, who died in 1998 in a car crash, aged 50 was drummer with such luminaries as Jeff Beck, Rainbow, MSG, ELP, Whitesnake, Brian May and Black Sabbath.
On 7th January 2016 he was celebrated in his home town of Cirencester with the unveiling of a blue plaque by Brian May and Tony Iommi.
The event was organised by Italian fan Rossella Amadori, with the help of the Cirencester Mayor, councillors and the Civic Society.
The plaque was unveiled at the Corn Hall, where Cozy had played many times, mainly with his school band The Corals. One show there broke a word-record for playing for 11.5 hours without repeating a song.
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Arriving early, I was able to chat with Rossella and her partner Gary, as well as drum tech Bob Adcock and Yngwie drummer Mike Terrana.
The plaque was unveiled at 2.30, at the entrance to the Corn Hall, with quite a crowd present (cordoned off), and a few words from Brian May and Tony Iommi.
This was followed by a VIP reception hosted by the Mayor and the leader of the Civic Society and featuring Brian May, Tony Iommi, Suzi Quatro alongside many former bandmates and colleagues, including Bernie Marsden, Neil Murray, Don Airey, Frankie Aiello, Ted McKenna, Tony Martin, Carl Palmer, Mike Terrana, Russell Gilbrook, and several members of The Corals and other local musicians.
I understand that Brian was to be in and out but stayed a little longer when he knew who else was present, but this was largely kept in a separate room.
Brian May led the speeches and tributes, talking of how driven and inspirational Cozy was. Tony Iommi, Suzi Quatro, The Corals, Carl Palmer and Rossella followed, with stories of the man and his music. Suzi raised a few laughs when, after the speeches by Brian and Tony, that without the bassist and drummer you have (mouthing) "Fuck All".
Carl Palmer had not been due to speak, but when he arrived he was pulled up, as a drummer, to complete the set on stage and provide a drummer's angle.
He told of how the mid 80s reformation was rushed through but he was tied up with recording an album, which Greg Lake and Keith Emerson couldn't (wouldn't) wait for, and his blessing for Cozy to fill the stool.
Cozy is held in the greatest of respect by fellow drummers. Russell Gilbrook (drummer for Uriah Heep) told me "Cozy was a world class drummmer with his own idenity, who had a fantastic sound on the drums. That's my idea of a musician, individuality, a great artist, being a nice guy and great drumming."
Mike Terrana (Yngwie Malmsteen, Tarja Turunen) said "I was sixteen years old and had a copy of Rainbow's 'Rising', I heard Cozy Powell playing on 'Stargazer' and it changed my life. I wouldn't play drums the way I do now if it I didn't have that record. I liked that he was a groovy British drummer with the double bass style, shuffle, bluesy, very cool."
There were tables showing memorabilia new and old, most interesting an early autograph using his real name of Colin Flooks alongside photos of Cozy in the school orchestra, aged 14, tour programs, drum skins, two of Cozy's drum kits and some rare records.
It was not possible to talk to Brian or Tony with their minders present and their being escorted out but I did get to spend some time with Don Airey and Ted McKenna who'd come down from Glasgow for the event, and just before vocalist Frank Aeillo left to return home to the Isle Of Wight I orchestrated a photo shoot of the last (1974) line-up of Cozy Powell's Hammer – Don Airey, Frank, Neil Murray and Bernie Marsden. A rare occasion indeed, and many many stories told.
At 4pm the hall was opened to the public and was very well attended. A fitting and long overdue celebration of one of rock's finest drummers.
Dr Brian May
Bernie Marsden (Whitesnake, Cozy Powell's Hammer)
Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Brian May)
Don Airey (Rainbow, Cozy Powell's Hammer, Whitesnake, Deep Purple)
Frankie Aiello (Bedlam, Cozy Powell's Hammer)
Tony Martin (Black Sabbath)
Ted McKenna (MSG, SAHB)
Carl Palmer (ELP, Asia)
Russell Gilbrook (Bedlam, Uriah Heep)
Mike Terrana (Yngwie Malmsteen, Tarja Turunen)
Bob Adcock (drum tech)