Yes Drummer Alan White 1949 – 2022

The drummer also played on John Lennon's 'Imagine' and was Yes' longest-tenured member.

By Scott Bernstein May 26, 2022 11:00 am PDT

Longtime Yes drummer Alan White died today at age 72 at his home near Seattle. White’s family confirmed the news of his passing with a statement on his website.

White died “after a brief illness” according to the statement. Yes recently announced Alan would not be taking part in the band’s upcoming tour “due to current health issues.” Jay Schellen will be behind the kit for the June run through the U.K. which will be dedicated to White.

Alan joined Yes in 1972 after founding drummer Bill Bruford’s departure. White, who first played with the group on a tour in support of Close To The Edge was the longest-tenured member of Yes.

The drummer’s family shared the following obituary:

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.

Alan was born in Pelton, County Durham, England on June 14, 1949. He began piano lessons at the age of six, began playing the drums at age twelve, and has been performing publicly since the age of thirteen.

Throughout the 1960s, Alan honed his craft with a variety of bands, including The Downbeats, The Gamblers, Billy Fury, Alan Price Big Band, Bell and Arc, Terry Reid, Happy Magazine (later called Griffin), and Balls with Trevor Burton (The Move) and Denny Laine (Wings). In 1968, Alan joined Ginger Baker’s Airforce, a new group that was put together by the former drummer of Cream and other noted musicians from England’s music scene including Steve Winwood, formerly of Traffic.

In 1969, Alan received what he thought at the time to be a prank phone call, but it was John Lennon calling to ask Alan to join the Plastic Ono Band. The next day Alan found himself learning songs in the back of an airliner headed to Toronto with Lennon, Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, and Klaus Voormann. The ensuing album, Live Peace in Toronto, sold millions of copies, peaking at number 10 on the charts.

Alan’s association with Lennon continued, recording singles like ‘Instant Karma’ and the subsequent landmark album, Imagine, with Alan providing drums for the title song, ‘Jealous Guy’, and ‘How Do You Sleep at Night’. Alan’s work with Lennon led to an introduction to George Harrison, who asked Alan to perform on the album All Things Must Pass, including the single, ‘My Sweet Lord’, released in 1970. Alan subsequently worked with many artists for the Apple label, including Billy Preston, Rosetta Hightower, and Doris Troy. Alan joined YES on July 27, 1972, and with only three days to learn the music, YES opened their US tour before 15,000 fans in Dallas, Texas on July 30, 1972. Alan has been with YES ever since, and with the passing of founding member, Chris Squire, in June 2015, Alan is the longest continuously serving band member.

Alan is preceded in death by his parents, Raymond and May White (née Thrower), his sister-in-law, Mindi Hall, and many loyal furry companions. He is survived by his wife of forty years (May 15, 1982) Rogena “Gigi” (née Walberg), his children, Jesse (Emily), their two children JJ and Ellie, and Cassi (Kela), and sister-in-law Andrea Holmqvist (Robert).

Gigi, Jesse, and Cassi
Seattle, WA

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