Alan White, drummer with progressive rock pioneers Yes, has died at the age of 72.
White, who also played on projects with The Beatles’ John Lennon and George Harrison, passed away at his home in Seattle on Thursday (26 May) after a brief illness. His family confirmed his death on his Facebook page.
“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,” they wrote.
A few days before his death Yes had confirmed that due to health issues White would not be taking part in the band’s upcoming UK tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their iconic 1972 album Close to the Edge.
Following the death of founding Yes member Chris Squire in June 2015, White was the group’s longest continuously serving band member.
White joined the band in 1972, replacing original drummer Bill Bruford. Alongside the rest of the group he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.
White was born in Pelton, County Durham in the UK in 1949. He began piano lessons at the age of six and started playing drums when he was 12.
In 1969, John Lennon asked White to join the Plastic Ono Band and he appeared on the song “Instant Karma” as well as the 1971 album Imagine, which included the famous title track as well as “Jealous Guy”.
In an interview with The Seattle Times in 2021, White said he thought the call from Lennon was a prank. “A voice announced, ‘Hello, this is John Lennon,’” White said. “I thought it was a mate pulling my leg, put the receiver down, and went back to the kitchen.”
White also worked with George Harrison on the 1970 album All Things Must Pass, including the single, “My Sweet Lord”.
Alan White is survived by his wife Rogena “Gigi” and his children.