Alan White, who played drums with Yes and former Beatles, dies at 72

Alan White, a veteran rock drummer who had worked with two former Beatles by the age of 21, but was best known for his long career with ...


Alan White, a veteran rock drummer who had worked with two former Beatles by the age of 21, but was best known for his long career with the pioneering British progressive rock band Yes, died Thursday at his home in the Seattle area. He was 72 years old.

His death was announced by his family. The announcement did not specify a cause, saying only that he died “after a brief illness”.

News of Mr White’s death came just days after Yes announced he would not be taking part in the band’s next tour of Britain, which begins on June 13. He had been a member of Yes since 1972, but, the band noted in a statement, “a number of health issues” had limited his time on stage since 2016, with Jay Schellen doing most of the drums and Mr. White joining the band. group late in each set.

Alan White was born in Pelton, County Durham, England on June 14, 1949 to Raymond and May (Thrower) White. He started playing drums at the age of 12. He first played professionally the following year and continued to work with a number of British bands throughout the 1960s.

In September 1969, John Lennon, who had heard him with one of these groups, called Mr. White and asked him to join the group he was forming for a concert in Toronto.

As Mr White has told interviewers over the years, he assumed the call was a prank and hung up. Lennon recalled, Mr. White was convinced he was who he claimed to be and he was soon on his way to Canada as a member of the Plastic Ono Band, which also included Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton and Klaus Voormann.

The Toronto gig, one of only two the band would play (the second was a charity gig in London in December), was memorable, marking Lennon’s return to the stage after a long absence and producing the hit album ” Live Peace in Toronto Mr. White later recorded with Lennon on the single “Instant Karma” and on several tracks from the album “Imagine”, including the cut title, which, like “Instant Karma”, was a Top 10 hit.

Mr. White also recorded with another former Beatle, George Harrison, in sessions for Harrison’s debut solo album, “All Things Must Pass”.

After these recordings, along with backing work by Joe Cocker and others and a brief stint as one of many percussionists with fellow drummer Ginger Baker’s band, he was invited in 1972 to join Yes after the band’s original drummer, Bill Bruford, left to join another top progressive rock band, King Crimson.

Yes it’s music, like that of other groups in the so-called prog-rock movement, was more complex and challenging than standard rock ‘n’ roll. But Mr. White only had three days to learn the band’s repertoire before a gig in Dallas – and, he later recalled, when he met the band’s lead singer, Jon Anderson, and bassist, Chris Squire, they told him that if he didn’t agree to join the band “they were going to throw me out the third story window.” He accepted, he learned music and his long association with Yes began.

Yes has undergone many personal and stylistic changes over the years, including adopting a simpler pop sound for the album “90125” and the single “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” which became a No. 1 hit in 1983. Mr. White and Mr. Squire were the group’s only constant presences until The death of Mr. Squire in 2015.

Mr. White, who also helped write a number of the band’s songs, was first heard with Yes on a few tracks on the live album “Yessongs” (1973) and, a year later, on the studio album “Tales From Topographic Oceans”. “He was on all subsequent albums until ‘The Quest’, released last year.

Yes was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.

Mr. White is survived by his wife of 40 years, Rogena (Walberg) White; one son, Jesse; one daughter, Cassi; and two grandchildren.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Alan White, who played drums with Yes and former Beatles, dies at 72
Alan White, who played drums with Yes and former Beatles, dies at 72
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