April 5, 2008 marked the tenth anniversary of the death of legendary drummer Cozy Powell. His resume reads like a classic rock bible: COZY POWELL'S HAMMER, THE JEFF BECK GROUP, RAINBOW, MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP, WHITESNAKE, EMERSON, LAKE & POWELL, BLACK SABBATH and many, many more.
Powell died on April 5, 1998 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 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. It was generally felt that Powell's death was a great loss to the world of popular music. Countless rock-based drummers have cited Cozy Powell as an influence.
BLACK SABBATH fan site Black-Sabbath.com has posted the following letter from SABBATH drummer Bill Ward regarding the anniversary of Powell's passing:
"Thanks for reminding us it's been ten years since Cozy died. I think about him from time to time. I've always been grateful that our last phone conversation ended on a high note. I felt we were both sincere with each other, sharing mutual respect when touching on our individual histories in hard rock/metal.
"Over the years, death has sometimes come quickly to old friends, and I've felt the pain and dilemma of not returning a phone call as I would have liked to, but didn't; not being able to say a proper good-bye in life; being upset, or undone, or unresolved from the last conversation, then feeling the loss of that end. With Cozy, I felt we had the perfect ending conversation. We talked from the heart. In hindsight, our conversation seems gift-like, fitting perfectly into the great order of things. Cozy died about ten days after he and I spoke, maybe sooner, I'm not sure.
"OK. Drum students — listen to this man. Check out the band RAINBOW. Listen to 'Stargazer'. Cozy is a master. Listen to the top of the song — that's Cozy Powell playing. Discover this giant of rock drumming. He lives forever on records and in our hearts.
"Thanks, Coze — nice work."