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.
Cozy speaks on his learning process in an interview with Robyn Flans;
"I taught myself to play. I would go to see all the other drummers who played in the circuit. I would go out to all the different clubs and watch every one of them because everybody, good or bad, has something to offer. Another drummer might do some little lick that is really good, and so I took everybody else's ideas. In the initial stage, I think everybody has to do that. I would listen to all the records. I would listen to the Buddy Rich stuff and the Louie Bellson stuff in the early days, but I didn't sit down and work out how they played. I just stole the ideas they had and the amount of power they had. I've always developed that kind of style in my playing as opposed to being a jazz player. I can play some jazz-style things, but not like someone who is brought up that way. I came up the English rock way, which is completely different. And I thought I would prefer to be known as an English rock drummer, rather than trying to start getting too clever. A lot of English drummers tend to, after a certain age get a bit snobby and start claiming they can do this and that. Without patronizing, American jazz musicians are so far ahead that we haven't got a chance."
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. During this time the two became good friends, with White being best man at Powell's wedding. Powell then landed the then highly prestigious drumming job with Jeff Beck's group in April 1970. Their first project was to record an album of Motown covers in the USA. This was never finished and remains unreleased. After the recording of two albums, Rough and Ready (October 1971) and Jeff Beck Group (July 1972), the band fell apart.
In 1972 Powell drummed for two tracks ("Hey Sandy" and "Martha") on Harvey Andrews' album Writer of Songs. By late 1972 he had joined up with the Ball brothers and singer Frank Aiello to form Bedlam, whose eponymous album was recorded for Chrysalis and released in August 1973. Eventually Powell abandoned Bedlam to record two singles including Dance with the Devil which reached #3 in the UK singles chart during January 1974. The track featured Suzi Quatro on bass. Beck's studio producer was Mickie Most and Powell soon found himself drafted into sessions for artists signed to Most's RAK label, including Julie Felix, Hot Chocolate, Donovan and Suzi Quatro. To cash in on his chart success the drummer formed Cozy Powell's Hammer in April 1974. The line-up included Bernie Marsden (guitar), Clive Chamen (bass), Don Airey (keyboards) and Frank Aiello (Bedlam) on vocals. 'Na Na Na' was a hit, and another single 'Le Souk' was recorded but never released.
In 1975 he joined Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. Powell and 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; 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 August 16, 1980. The festival was Powell's last show with the band.
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 1985. 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.
On Drum Solos:
"I've always had solos in the past, even back to the Jeff Beck days. I want the solo to be something that is very explosive and unforgettable. Although my technical expertise is minimal, I will probably be able to fool most of the people most of the time by what I do. It's not just a case of playing; it's a case of using every trick in the book. [he explains] Well, it's impossible to play the things you can play with an orchestra, so I use a tape of an orchestra as I play. In Rainbow, I used the 1812 Overture with the full Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. I would play to that, and there would be a lot of lights and effects. When you saw it, it seemed incredible. It was only me playing a drumkit, but when you get a sixty-six-piece orchestra, choir, a few bombs and smoke, it's unforgettable, whether you like drums or not. I've always tried to do a solo that's spectacular. In the Michael Schenker Group, I did a thing where I incorporated the 1812 Overture and a piece of music from the 633 Squadron, which is a war film about the planes bombing Norway, trying to get a nuclear plant the Germans have. It's a very famous piece of music and I would use the theme music in the set because it was very British. I'm now working on a new solo where I'm going to incorporate "Mars" from The Planets suite with a whole bunch of effects, maybe using lasers. It's not very long--maybe eight or nine minutes--but there are great effects. The riser moves and the whole thing. I did that in 1975 with Rainbow and it was the first time anybody actually moved on stage with a drumkit. I had one that went up in the air and out towards the audience. Then everybody started doing that. I got a lot of my ideas from Nick Mason, who did a thing with Pink Floyd. He was the first one I ever saw use lights when he played, and I thought it was a very good idea to have strobe lights around the bass drum. It was a very simple effect, but I thought I would expand that. Not everyone in the audience is going to be a drummer. So I like to have the element of surprise and do something a bit spectacular."
A stint with Gary Moore followed in 1989. His most well-known association was 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 along with Neil Murray were members of Brian May's band, playing on the Back To The Light and Another World albums. Cozy 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. Cozy's last recording session was for Colin Blunstone's The Light Inside, alongside Don Airey, which was released shortly after Cozy's death. Prior to his death in 1998, Cozy had pulled out of a tour with Yngwie Malmsteen due to an injury and was preparing to tour with Brian May. 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 had a fascination with fast cars and motorbikes, and raced for Hitachi on the UK saloon car circuit for a few months. He made headlines when he appeared on the BBC children's programme Record Breakers where he set a world record for the most drums played in under one minute, live on television.
Cozy Powell died on 5 April 1998 following a car crash while driving his Saab 9000 at 104 mph in bad weather on the M4 motorway near Bristol. According to the BBC report, at the time of the crash, Powell's blood-alcohol reading was over the legal limit, he was not wearing a seatbelt, and he was talking to his girlfriend on his mobile phone.
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. Many rock drummers have cited him as a major influence.
Colin Flooks (29 December 1947 - 5 April 1998), better known as Cozy Powell, was an English rock drummer who made his name with many major rock bands.
Cozy Powell is one of the most prolific drummers in the business. His CV runs like a Who's Who of rock, with stints as a fully paid up member of Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Whitesnake, M.S.G. and the ELP spin-off Emerson, Lake, & Powell. Then there are those legendary guest appearances - with everyone from Donovan to Roger Daltrey, Jack Bruce to Jeff Beck and Gary Moore to Brian May.
His career not only spans three decades, it's also one of the most diverse in rock. In the 1960's, Cozy was a member of the Ace Kefford Stand; in the 70's he was a session drummer for Mickie Most's RAK label, which made Cozy a household name with the Dance With the Devil single; and in 1991, he turned up on Comic Relief's No 1 single, "The Stonk", with comedians Hale & Pace!
Cozy joined Brian May on a Jimi Hendrix tribute album, and supported the legendary Peter Green on his comeback.
More recently, sessions with Glenn Tipton (Judas Priest), Brian May (new album) and Yngwie Malmsteen, the last two with tours, have seen Cozy Powell back to his busiest and perhaps, his best."
Cozy Powell was born in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England, and started playing drums at age 12 in the school orchestra, thereafter playing along in his spare time to popular singles of the day. The first band he 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 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.