Alan White, the legendary British drummer who carved his name into rock and roll history through his work with John Lennon and Yes, has died at the age of 72. White’s family confirmed the news on the drummer’s Facebook page.
“Alan White, our beloved husband, dad, and grandpa, passed away at the age of 72 at his Seattle-area home on May 26, 2022, after a brief illness,” the statement reads. “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.”
Born in Pelton, County Durham, England, White was a fixture around the up and coming British blues scene of the mid-1960s as a teenager, including drumming with the likes of Billy Fury and Denny Laine. White’s first major break came when he joined fellow drummer Ginger Baker’s Airforce in 1968, which eventually led to White getting an invite to join John Lennon for his performance at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival Festival in 1969.
White would continue to be Lennon’s go-to drummer for the early part of his career, participating in the recording of the single ‘Instant Karma!’ and the sessions of Lennon’s Imagine album. White was also one of the drummers and percussionists to take part in George Harrison’s sessions for All Things Must Pass and is credited on the number one single ‘My Sweet Lord’.
White subsequently joined progressive rockers Yes in early 1972, just three days before the launch of their American tour. White replaced Bill Buford, who left the band to join British prog peers King Crimson. White stayed with the band through 1980’s Drama, returning in 1983 and continuing to be the band’s full-time drummer all the way through to the modern day. White was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Yes in 2017.
White’s other notable works include contributing to albums by Billy Preston, Donovan, and Doris Troy. White announced that he would be sitting out Yes’ 50th-anniversary tour of Closer to the Edge this summer just three days ago, citing “current health issues”.
White is survived by his wife of forty years Rogena “Gigi”, along with his children, Jesse (Emily) and Cassi (Kela).