Getting Cozy with Stevie Wonder

I’ve mentioned before that along with Ringo, Cozy Powell is one of my favorite drummers, and in fact is a big reason I play Yamaha drums — back in 1990 when I was irresponsibly burning through an inheritance, I saw a top-of-the-line Yamaha kit with K Zildjian cymbals (although Cozy played Paiste cymbals — I like K’s because they don’t show up that often in rock and roll) at Carl’s Music in Lexington, KY and said, “If they’re good enough for Cozy, they’re good enough for me .” Five grand later, I took it home, and I’ve taken pleasure in having gear that’s better than I am ever since.

Although Cozy was best known for playing hard rock, he also did a fair amount of studio work, much of which was uncredited. And that leads us to an interesting story from Cheap Trick’s erstwhile drummer and band historian Bun E. Carlos, who was a friend of Cozy’s:

In Spring of 1979 Cozy rode his bike over to Amsterdam to have dinner with us on a day off of our tour. We were chatting about Stevie Wonder and Cozy told me he did a take of Superstition, while recording at Motown with Jeff Beck, in which he played the song in the style of Stevie Wonder. He said they were trying different versions trying to get a good take for the Jeff Beck Group album they were working on.
Cozy went on to say when Stevie’s version came out, it was the take he was drumming on that Stevie used, but Stevie was listed as the drummer.
Cozy said he never had told anyone this story before.
He didn’t want to say anything publicly because it would be difficult for him to authenticate, and it would sound like “sour grapes” if he said anything.
And he asked that I not repeat his story……
A few weeks before this, Cozy had sat in with Cheap Trick at a couple gigs in England.
A few months later, reviewing my tapes of Cozy playing on my 5 piece drum set, I certainly noticed the similarity of drum licks and style of playing between the
Cheap Trick board tapes and Stevie Wonder’s recording of Superstition.
Respecting Cozy’s wishes for anonymity, I never repeated his story until after his passing.
I believe Cozy was correct and it’s him drumming on the track.

As it happens, “Superstition” is one of my top three Stevie Wonder tracks (the others being “You Haven’t Done Nothing” and “Fingertips Part II“), and I’ve always loved the groove. As it also happens, the isolated drum track from “Superstition” is available online, and it does sound like Cozy. But whether it is or isn’t, it’s a fine example of what a really cool drum track sounds like — musical, swinging, and with a mile-deep groove. Check it out:

A tip of the Mondo Mortarboard to commenter and keyboardist Fudd.

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About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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One Response to Getting Cozy with Stevie Wonder

  1. nightfly says:

    I don’t recollect if I’ve ever posted this here a’fore… in fact, something says I have, but who cares, it’s awesome and it’s relevant here, even if I’m a few days late.

    Stevie Wonder, Superstition, live on Sesame Street.

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