Just recently, we’ve lost another notable drummer, Alan White. The announcement was made by his family through his Facebook page.
Reminiscing Alan White
Alan White was famously known as the longtime drummer of the progressive rock pioneers, Yes. But before he became a member of the band Yes, he also played drums with John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band. And played with George Harrison too! You can check his discography below for the songs he played and recorded with them.
On 14 June 1949, Alan White was born in the village of Penton, Durham, North East England. Music runs in his blood. His father played piano in local pubs, while his grandfather who also played piano and his uncle who was a drummer were in a local dance bands. He took piano lessons when he was six, and his uncle noticed him playing the instrument “very percussively”. His uncle then informed Alan’s parents about his observation, and on Christmas day, when he was twelve, they bought him an Ajax drum kit. According to White, his uncle was his big influence.
When Alan White was thirteen, he joined his first band named Downbeats. They became well-known in the New Castle area where they performed songs by Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers, and The Beatles. They went to London in 1964 to join a band contest held at the London Palladium and they changed their name from Downbeats to Blue Chips. They won the contest and received money, new equipment, a recording contract and recorded several singles as their prize. But the singles did not chart, and so they returned home and soon, they disbanded.
White lessen his commitments to music to concentrate on his school exams. At college, he planned to be an architect since he got interest in studying technical drawing. But when he’s seventeen, he pursued his love for music.
1969 Prank call?
In 1969, White received a phone call and thought that it was a prank call. It was because the caller said he was John Lennon and he is inviting him to join the Plastic Ono Band. The following day, he is learning the songs at the back of an airline going to Toronto! Together with him were John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, and Klaus Voorman. The performance was released as a live album, Live Peace in Toronto 1969. The album was a hit that sold millions of copies, and peaks number 10 on charts.
White’s work with Lennon led him to introduction to George Harrison. He asked White to perform on his album All Things Must Pass which includes the single My Sweet Lord. The album was released in 1970. Afterwards, White worked with many artists under the Apple label which includes Rosetta Hightower, Doris Troy and Billy Preston.
19 July 1972, after Yes finished the recording of their album Close to the Edge, Bill Bruford, currently Yes’ drummer, left the band to join King Crimson. The band were desperate to look for a replacement for they only have less than a week for their supporting tour. Tony Dimitriades, Yes’ manager, called White and asked him to join.
27 July 1972, with only three days to learn the music of the band, White joined Yes. And on 30 July 1972, the Close to the Edge Tour of Yes opened with around 15,000 fans in Dallas, Texas! From then on, Alan White has been with the band. And when the founding member, Chris Squire, passed away in June 2015, White became the longest continuously member that served the band.
Below is Alan White’s DISCOGRAPHY, from Plastic Ono Band to George Harrison, to Yes, and with other artists and projects!
• Ramshackled (1976)
• White (2006)
With Chris Squire
• “Run with the Fox” (1981)
With the Alan Price Set
• A Price on His Head (1967)
• This Price Is Right (1968)
With John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band
• Live Peace in Toronto 1969 (1969) (drums)
• “Instant Karma!” (1970) (drums, piano, backing vocals)
• Imagine (1971) (drums on “Imagine”, “Gimme Some Truth”, “Oh My Love”, “How Do You Sleep?”, “How?” and “Oh Yoko!”; Tibetan cymbals on “Oh My Love”; vibraphone on “Jealous Guy”)
• Some Time in New York City (1972) (drums on side three “Live Jam” at the Lyceum Ballroom in London on 15 December 1969 at a UNICEF charity concert)
With George Harrison
• All Things Must Pass (1970)
• Radha Krsna Temple (1971)
• Yessongs (recorded 1972, released 1973)
• Progeny: Seven Shows from Seventy-Two (recorded 1972, released 2015)
• Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973)
• Relayer (1974)
• Going for the One (1977)
• Tormato (1978)
• Yesshows (recorded 1976–78, released 1980)
• Drama (1980)
• Classic Yes (1981)
• 90125 (1983)
• 9012Live: The Solos (1985)
• Big Generator (1987)
• Union (1991)
• Union Live (recorded 1991, released 2011)
• Yesyears (1991)
• Yesstory (1992)
• Talk (1994)
• Keys to Ascension (1996)
• Keys to Ascension 2 (1997)
• Open Your Eyes (1997)
• The Ladder (1999)
• House of Yes: Live from House of Blues (2000)
• Keystudio (2001)
• Magnification (2001)
• Symphonic Live (2002)
• In a Word: Yes (1969–) (2002)
• The Ultimate Yes: 35th Anniversary Collection (2003)
• Yes Remixes (2003)
• Songs from Tsongas (2005, 2014)
• The Word Is Live (2005)
• Essentially Yes (2005)
• Live at Montreux 2003 (2007)
• From a Page (Recorded 2010, released 2019)
• Fly from Here (2011)
• In the Present – Live from Lyon (2011)
• Heaven & Earth (2014)
• Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome (2014)
• Like It Is: Yes at the Mesa Arts Center (2015)
• Topographic Drama – Live Across America (2017)
• Fly from Here – Return Trip (2018)
• Yes 50 Live (2019)
• The Royal Affair Tour: Live from Las Vegas (2020)
• The Quest (2021)
With Tony Levin and David Torn
• Levin/Torn/White (2011): with David Torn and Tony Levin
Other appearances and sessions
• Gary Wright – Extraction (1970)
• Jesse Davis – Jesse Davis (1970)
• Paul Kossoff – Back Street Crawler (1973)
• Rick Wakeman – The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1973)
• Rick Wakeman – Rick Wakeman’s Criminal Record (1977)
• Steve Howe – Beginnings (1975)
• Steve Howe – The Steve Howe Album (1979)
• Donovan – “The Music Makers” (1973)
• Eddie Harris – E.H. in the U.K. (1973)
• Johnny Harris – “All to Bring You Morning” (1973)
• Gary Wright – Headin’ Home (1979)
• Chris Squire – Chris Squire’s Swiss Choir (2007; re-release of “Run with the Fox”)
• Various artists – “In the Flesh?”, “Mother”, and “Hey You” from Billy Sherwood’s Back Against the Wall (2005)
• Various Artists – “All My Love” from Sherwood’s Led Box: The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Tribute (2008)
Going back to Homeworld
26 May 2022, at the age of 72 and after a brief illness, Alan White’s family announced about his passing through his Facebook page.
Yes was supposed to have an upcoming tour in the United Kingdom for the celebration of their iconic album Close to the Edge’s 50th anniversary. But days earlier of White’s passing, he already announced that he will not be able to take part in the tour due to a health issue.
“Throughout his life and six-decade career, Alan was many things to many people: a certified rock star to fans around the world; band mate to a select few, and gentleman and friend to all who met him.” (excerpt from the announcement of his family on his Facebook page)
Peace is a word we teach
A place for us all to reach
Sing as it sings to you
As it sings to me
As I will always need you inside my heart
from the lyrics of Homeworld (The Ladder)
Thank you for the music Alan White!