Lee Hutchings is the director of the upcoming “Dance With The Devil: The Cozy Powell Story”, and he has been working on this along with producer Andrew Fawn. This documentary will feature exclusive and extensive interviews with family, friends, work associates and fans, in-between various archive footage and with a ‘killer’ soundtrack.
It will be an in-depth and personal account of the man who, from humble beginnings, would go on to play an essential part in British and American rock drumming by playing in and alongside multiple bands and solo artists including Jeff Beck, Rainbow, Whitesnake, Black Sabbath and Brian May, as well as his own solo recordings including his signature instrumental “Dance With The Devil”, up until his tragic death in 1998. Here we catch-up with Lee plus ask a few well known Cozy fans for their picks of his music…
Q: What was the first piece of music you heard featuring Cozy Powell?
A: I suppose the first time I heard Cozy Powell was on the Rainbow track “Since You’ve been Gone” as a child, but ironically never knew it was him until I started to research for “Dance With The Devil: The Cozy Powell Story”. Once I knew it was Cozy powering such an iconic track I was immediately delighted that Cozy had been part of my childhood without knowing it.
Q: What sets Cozy apart from other drummers in your view?
A: There are many reasons for why I think Cozy stands apart from his contemporaries – the first being his style of playing, which was powerful, rock solid and energetic, but equally musically, dynamic and tasteful. That’s not to say there weren’t other drummers at that time who had a similar style and technique, i.e. John Bonham, but unlike Bonham Cozy was able to incorporate his own feeling and abilities into whatever he played whether it be rock, funk, soul, or blues.
This is clearly evident in Cozy’s double bass drum technique. Again, there were other contemporaries of Cozy who used double bass drum, with the exception of Bonham, but what made Cozy stand out was his superior understanding of when use them, unlike some who would use them to simply show off or overkill the music, Cozy would normally only did so when it was called for it to further better and drive the song. A great example of Cozy’s double bass drum brilliance is on both the record and live versions of Rainbow’s “Kill The King”.
The second point is, again unlike his contemporaries, Cozy was a workman musician. He was a drummer and individual who couldn’t seem to settle down for too long with one particular artist or band. Of course there were the odd exceptions, Rainbow and Black Sabbath, but this enabled Cozy to shift from music style and genre with ease and allowed him to demonstrate and expand his drumming skills.
Consider if Cozy had only been a one band drummer. It would be terrible to think of Cozy never have played and collaborated with such other artists as the Michael Shenkar Group, Emerson, Lake and Powell and Jeff Beck, and that’s not including those who he worked with as a credited session musican.
Thirdly, and tying in with point two, Cozy was one of the few drummers in music history to try, and I argue succeed, in bringing the drums further awareness and recognition to the public with his string of solo bands, hit singles – such as the iconic “Dance With The Devil” and “Na, Na, Na” – and solo albums.
With the exception of Sandy Nelson, one of Cozy’s heroes, and Phil Collins, there haven’t been many other drummers in popular music who have had success purely as a drummer in his own right, rather than just being a drummer with a particular band or artist.
And my fourth, and final, point is when comparing Cozy Powell to John Bonham, Keith Moon, Ian Paice, Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell or Ringo Starr, what do we really know about Cozy? To be honest, not much.
Yes we know he had a love of fast cars and motorbikes, but generally not much else is known about him privately as a person. For example, What was Cozy’s childhood like? What were his dreams, ambitions and goals? Who did Cozy like, dislike and why? These are a few of the questions we are seeking to answer by making “Dance With The Devil: The Cozy Powell Story”, and in addition will show what an incredible life Cozy had. One that was a classic rage to riches story, a tale of triumph over adversity. But unlike other similar stories, this one has a tragic ending.
Q: Where did the idea come for the documentary? How long will it be and will it be a DVD release only or perhaps get a showing at selected rock festivals?
A: The idea for making “Dance With The Devil” was from realising that there were no official accounts of Cozy Powell’s life or work. There were, and still are, no official biographies or documentaries and I thought “Why?” So I decided to change that by wanting to make the first and definitive account and testimonial of Cozy’s life and work, featuring those who knew and worked with him.
Regarding running times at present we are looking at a 90 – 100 minutes running time, although once in post-production this may change accordingly, and our intention is to obtain maximum saturation by screening the film at multiple national and international festivals, having cinematic and Television distribution, as well as internet downloading and DVD and Blu-Ray releases. Basically, the more people who can watch our documentary the better!
(Photo by Holly Craven)
Q: Have Cozy’s estate been involved in the documentary at all?
A: No. Unfortunately when we, I and Producer Andrew Fawn, began researching for “Dance With The Devil” we were quick to discover that Cozy, through one reason or another, didn’t appear to have an estate or representative available. This naturally disheartened us but we were lucky to then hear from Cozy’s agent Brenda Brooker, who has since been our official Cozy representative and contact, and who has continued to offer support and advice.
Q: Who was the first musician to sign up to the documentary? Ideally who is also on your ‘wish list ‘ to feature?
A: The first musician we were able to sign up and interview was UFO, Whitesnake and Cozy Powell’s Hammer guitarist Bernie Marsden. Bernie has been wonderful in offering us insights into his and Cozy’s close and personal relationship, both as friends and musicians. Having been inspired by Bernie’s time and generosity with us, we now wish to further interview as many fellow musicians and friends of Cozy’s as possible including Jeff Beck, Tony Iommi, Jack Bruce, Robert Plant, Michael Shenker, Brian May and Roger Daltry to name a few, alongside Cozy fans such as Lars Ulrich of Metallica and Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden.
Q: Who else have you got lined up for the documentary interview wise?
A: For the documentary we have so far secured for interview, Emerson, Lake and Palmer/Powell’s Keith Emerson, drummer Bobby Rondinelli – Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult – and Deep Purple’s Roger Glover, but are quickly gathering interest from the rock community and are hoping those from our wish list will be willing to participate in further interviews.
Q: How easy/hard has it been to get access to archive footage? Will the documentary feature any rare footage at all?
A: Generally it is has been hard to gain access to acrchive footage, as there’s so much featuring Cozy, and with so much footage and music needed we as film makers have to respect the laws governing use of licensed footage and music. That said, we have made contacts with a few of those who can provide us with various clips, tracks, and pictures to use, and are also fortunate to have available to us rare footage from one of our interviewees, so we are hopeful and excited to use these to provide insight into Cozy’s story.
Q: With a project like this how did you go about funding it? Is this something that could work on Pledge Music?
A: As with all independent projects funding is very difficult because all film makers, understandably, want funding to their make projects and apply to the same, or similar funding schemes limiting the chances of obtaining that funding. An even harder achievement when considering the current budget cuts to the arts, so I decided that for at least the “Dance With The Devil” promotional video – which we hope to use to further support and financial interest for the feature, that I would use my own income to make this. That way, I know we would get the promo made and seen.
Now with the feature we are having to re-think our approach as, of course, features are a lot longer than shorts both in running times and days needed to make, and so need greater financial commitment which unfortunately I can’t provide which is why schemes such as Pledge Music, as well as other similar sites, are hugely beneficial and critical to the success and completion of independent film and story telling.
We will most definitely be using these sites to help fund “Dance With The Devil: The Cozy Powell Story” as it’ll mean fans of Cozy and fans of rock music, as well as fans of good documentary, will have the opportunity to contribute to a unique, exciting, and more importantly original project such as ours.
Q: Have you seen Cozy’s influence on any modern drummers?
A: Yes. Cozy’s influence can be seen far and wide in the rock community including drummers such as Lars Ulrich from Metallica – who has been stated as saying he is a huge fan of Rainbow and saw them when he was young – and generally those who play hard rock with double bass drums.
Like Ginger Baker in the 60’s, Cozy was the must see player in the 70’s, and beyond, when regarding double bass drum playing and how he used them, and what he achieved with them, have gone on to further inspire those to try and emulate his gifted and unique abilities. To quote Bernie Marsden, “I’ve played with a lot of players who think they play like him, but believe me, there was only one Cozy”. Enough said.
We ask a few Cozy Powell fans the first Cozy song they heard and what made them become a fan; favourite Cozy songs he plays on and any gigs they saw him perform at.
(Photo by Holly Craven)
1st Cozy song…would have to be off the ‘Rising’ LP or ‘ON stage’…most likely heard @ 1812 overture or Peaches or Radio Doctors record store or saw a review/ad in ‘Circus’ magazine. I was still in school then. Cover would have sold me even without hearing it :)
Fave albums & songs…Rainbow ‘On Stage’ – ‘Light in the Black’/’Stargazer’
‘Over the Top’ – solo (theme 1 & loner)
Michael Schenker Group ‘On & On’
Whitesnake ‘Slide It In’
Black Sabbath ‘Headless Cross’ – ‘Headless Cross’ & ‘Devil A Daughter’
Black Sabbath ‘Tyr’ – ‘Jerusalem’ & ‘Law Maker’
Gigs…Michael Schenker Group – Dec 1980- Milwaukee, Wi (they opened for Molly Hatchet!!!) very sad…
Whitesnake- 1984 – Milwaukee, Wi
Brian May- 1993- Vic Theater- Chicago, Il
Brian May 1993- Modjeska Theater, Milwaukee, WI…after show was cancelled as Brian was ill but we had caught up @ the Hyatt for drinks & then Italian restaurant. My work – Radio Doctors – was across the street from the Hyatt Black Sabbath – July 8,1995- Alpine Valley, WI
Probably first heard Cozy on ‘Dance with the Devil’, but it has to be the whole of the Rainbow ‘Rising’ album that stick out in my mind. So many fantastic songs that highlight Cozy’s drumming, but especially ‘Light in the Black’, ‘Tarot Woman’ and ‘Stargazer’.
First time I saw Cozy was in November 77 with Rainbow. That amazing 1812 the end. Fantastic! Bombastic even!
I’d have to say my immediate choices are Rainbow ‘A Light In The Black’, ‘Rainbow Kill The King’, Whitesnake 1983 drum solo that combined ‘633 Squadron’ with ‘1812’, ‘Slide It In’ LP, ELP ‘The Score’, ELP ‘Mars’, Rainbow ‘Eyes Of The World’, Graham Bonnet’s ‘Line Up’ LP, ‘Over The Top’ solo album.
Don Airey interviewed by Joe Geesin in 2009 talks about his time playing with Cozy:
Joe Geesin’s ‘Beginner’s Guide’ to the music of Cozy Powell:
Judas Priest guitarist Glen Tipton discusses Cozy Powell:
Joe Geesin interviews Cozy back in 1996:
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