Alan White was born in the village of Pelton, County Durham, in northern England on June 14th, 1949, and at age 7 moved to Ferryhill. His dad played the piano in local pubs, his grandfather also played the piano, and his uncle was a drummer. At 6 years old he took piano lessons but soon switched to drums, inspired by his uncle who gave him his first drum kit.
At thirteen he joined his first band, The Downbeats, and also played in The Gamblers, Billy Fury, Alan Price (original keyboardist for the British band the Animals) Big Band, Bell and Arc, Terry Reid (English rock vocalist and guitarist),
Dear friend & incredible drummer Alan White has left us way too soon. He was one of the most down to earth people I’ve known. When you next hear Imagine or Jealous Guy by John think of Alan as you hear his masterful playing. And all his wonderful work with Yes. RIP.Peter Frampton
and Happy Magazine (later called Griffin), and Balls with Trevor Burton (English guitarist and is a founding member of The Move) and Denny Laine (English musician, singer, and songwriter, founder of two major rock bands: the Moody Blues, (1964 to 1966), and Wings, (1971 to 1981).
Dear Alan. My best man at my wedding to Janee in Maui 1997. We love you and will miss you. You were just the best of the best for Yes and wonderful soul. We wrote Turn of the Century together all those years ago, just one of so many wonderful times together. And now you’re in heaven, resting after the long journey Home to meet your dear Mom… and Chris [Squire] of course.From Facebook – Jon Anderson
In 1969, White received, what he thought was a prank, call from Beatles co-founder John Lennon, who had seen him in Griffin and wanted him to join his Plastic Ono Band for their live performance at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival.
Today I lost a great brother and friend, the loveliest guy you’ll ever hope to meet. So dreadfully sad. I’m devastated. Miss you forever buddy.Geoff Downes
He showed up anyway and joined Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, and Klaus Voormann to perform, on September 13, 1969, at Varsity Stadium in front of 20,000 people. So he drums on the “Live Peace in Toronto 1969” album as well as “Imagine” and “Instant Karma”. He also worked on “All Things Must Pass” with George Harrison, spent a ten-week stint in “Ginger Baker’s Air Force” and a period with Steve Winwood.
Alan was a good friend and he will be missed by us all. I have been on many tours with Alan over the years. I will miss our chats and most of all I will miss him. My thoughts and love go out to all his family.Carl Palmer
Staying with his Griffin bandmates in Sussex, he shared a flat with engineer and producer Eddy Offord who worked with Yes on their albums and tours. Alan turned up at the studio where they were rehearsing “Siberian Khatru” for the upcoming album “Close To The Edge” and Bill Bruford had to leave early.
This was the first time he got to drum with the band. White then joined Chris Stainton’s All-Stars for a European tour in support of Joe Cocker, which included a show at the Rainbow Theatre in London that Yes bassist Chris Squire attended.
I was so sad to hear about the passing of Alan yesterday. He was such a gentle soul… except when behind his drum kit where he was so powerful and creative. I will miss you brother.Rick Wakeman
On July 19, 1972, after Yes had finished recording “Close to the Edge”, Bruford left to join King Crimson. Tony Dimitriades, who handled Offord’s affairs and would later be Yes’ manager, offered Alna the job. Jon Anderson and Squire then met White at Offord’s flat, and he joined. Three days later they left for the “Close to the Edge Tour”, July 30, 1972. That same week White was offered jobs with Jethro Tull and America. His first performances with the band were released on the live album, “Yessongs”
Alan would play drums and percussion on over 40 studio and live Yes albums, additionally adding piano parts and collaborating on the songwriting:
- “The Remembering (High the Memory)” from Tales from Topographic Oceans
- All of the Relayer album
- “Turn of the Century” from Going for the One
- “Future Times” and “Release, Release” from Tormato
- All of the Drama album
- “Changes”, “Our Song”, and “Hearts” from 90125
- “Big Generator” and “I’m Running” from Big Generator
- All the Open Your Eyes
- All of The Ladder album
- All of the Magnification album
- “The Gift of Love” from From a Page
- “The Game” and “To Ascend” from Heaven & Earth
He would play over 3,070 live shows during his career with Yes. He also released a solo album in 1976 called Ramshackled. Alan recorded an album’s worth of demos in 2003 which was called Loyal and with the help of Yes, keyboardist Geoff Downes, was released in 2006, with a cover by Roger Dean and renamed “White”.
I am so very sorry to hear of the passing of Alan White… he was an incredible drummer, and he played an influential part in rock n roll history. We had such a fantastic summer together on the Royal Affair Tour. Being on stage to sing Imagine with Yes and with Alan on drums was a very special moment I will always remember. My sincere condolences go out to Gigi, his family, and everyone in his extended Yes family.John Lodge
White was married for over 40 years to his wife Gigi; they lived in Newcastle, Washington. They had two children, Jesse (also a musician) and Cassi. In 1997, he served as the best man at Jon Anderson’s wedding. Alan White passed away at the age of 72, on May 26, 2022.
- William Roger Dean (born 31 August 1944), known as Roger Dean, is an English artist, designer, and publisher. He is best known for his work on posters and album covers for musicians, which he began painting in the late 1960s. The artists for whom he did the most art are English rock bands Yes and Asia. The covers often feature exotic fantasy landscapes. His work has sold more than 150 million copies worldwide.