Musicians take to social media to pay tribute to Yes drummer Alan White

Alan White at the Rock Walk of Fame induction in 1994
Alan White at the Rock Walk of Fame induction in 1994 (Image credit: Robert Knight Archive)

Musicians from across the globe have taken to social media to pay tribute to Yes drummer Alan White, whose death was announced yesterday. The news was confirmed in a post from the drummer's family on his Facebook page.

The statement began: "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. 

"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."

The statement went on to reflect on White's career. As well as his half-century stint with Yes, White worked with George Harrison, Ginger Baker's Air Force, Terry Reid, Joe Cocker and – perhaps most notably - John Lennon and Yoko Ono. As a member of the Plastic Ono Band, he played drums on classics like Imagine, Instant Karma, How Do You Sleep and Jealous Guy.

Amongst the tributes paid to White was a message from former Yes singer Jon Anderson, who composed a Facebook post that also referenced late Yes bassist Chris Squire: "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 of course." 

Yoko Ono: "Alan White was a wonderful drummer who was an essential part of the sound of Imagine, Instant Karma! and more recordings. He was always gentle, kind & good humoured. We were blessed he was part of our family. Love & condolences to Gigi, Jesse & Cassi White; JJ, Ellie & Andrea."

Carl Palmer: "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."

Rick Wakeman: "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."

Mike Portnoy: "Absolutely stunned to wake up to the news of Alan White’s passing. Obviously his playing with Yes for the past 50 years was a massive influence on me, but also his playing with both John Lennon and George Harrison was as well. Over the past 30 years or so, I’ve had the honour to become friends with him, touring and spending much time together. My deepest condolences go out to his wife Gigi, his family and everybody in the Yes camp."

John Lodge: "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."

Oliver Wakeman: "I heard the very sad new about the passing of Alan White earlier today from the Yes management. I’ve been thinking about him a lot today. I’ll post something soon about my memories of working with Alan in  Yes. Dad and I spoke earlier to talk about Alan too."

Geoff Downes: "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."

Peter Frampton: "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."

Gary Kemp: "RIP the great Alan White."

Vernon Reid: "For true Yes fans, this is a devastating day."

Questlove (The Roots): "Damn, man. So many legends passing away. Thank you Alan White."

Chris Slade (ex-AC/DC): "Shocked and saddened to hear of the death of an old friend Alan White, drummer of Yes, John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band and many others. RIP Alan and condolences to his wife Gigi, also his family and friends around Seattle."

Mike Scott (The Waterboys): Travel on well, Alan White RIP. You played one of the greatest drum performances of all time on Instant Karma."

Annie Haslam (Renaissance): "Apart from being an extraordinary creative drummer he was a lovely down to earth man. I met him on many occasions at the Yes shows I attended and he was warm and friendly. My heart and prayers go out to his wife and family and all members of Yes that he 'touched' with his spirit over the years. God Bless you Alan, you will live on in the music of Yes."

Steve Stevens (Billy Idol): "One of the great drummers Alan White of Yes has passed away. 18 February 1974 I watched Alan at Madison square garden NYC absolutely make that place levitate with energy. The world beyond just got one of the great rhythm sections of Squire and White."

Todd Le Torre (Queensryche): "Totally shocked by this tragic news. What a nice person and phenomenal drummer. My most sincere condolences to his family, band, and friends."

Haken: "RIP Alan White, a drumming legend." 

Warner Music Group: "When Alan joined Yes 50 years ago, he had to learn the band’s entire tour repertoire in just three days before they hit the road – a momentous achievement that reflected the highest level of artistry that he maintained throughout his career. He cemented his Rock & Roll Hall of Fame legacy with numerous gold and platinum Yes albums on Atlantic and Atco, while playing thousands of shows around the world across five decades. The Warner Music Family is mourning Alan’s passing and are sending our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and bandmates as well as his multitude of his fans."

Ludwig Dums: "We're heartbroken to hear the news on the passing of Ludwig artist and drumming icon Alan White. Our deepest sympathy and condolences go out to all his friends and family. He was such a gift to the music community and we cherish his 40+ years of support of Ludwig drums. He will be sorely missed."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.