YES has announced that Alan White, their much-loved drummer and friend of 50 years, has passed away, aged 72, after a short illness. A number of health setbacks since 2016, had restricted Alan’s time on stage with YES on recent tours with Jay Schellen filling in and Alan joining the band, to great applause, towards the end of each set. Alan had been looking forward to the forthcoming UK Tour, to celebrating his 50th Anniversary with YES and their iconic “Close To The Edge” album, where Alan’s journey with YES began in July 1972. Alan passed away, peacefully at home on May 26, 2022.
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 1969”, sold millions of copies, peaking at number 10 on the charts. The concert was also filmed by D.A. Pennebaker and has been released for the home video market as “Sweet Toronto”.
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”.
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 and Doris Troy.
Alan White joined YES on 30th July 1972 for the Close to the Edge Tour, after having had only three days to learn the music. Alan has been with YES ever since. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of YES in 2017.
YES will dedicate their 50th Anniversary Close to the Edge UK Tour in June to White, who is survived by his wife of forty years, Rogena “Gigi” (née Walberg), his children and grandchildren.