Yes drummer Alan White dead at 72

Alan White
(Image credit: Press)

Yes drummer Alan White has died, aged 72, his wife Gigi has confirmed.

In a statement on White's Facebook page (opens in new tab), Gigi said: "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.

"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)."

Earlier this week Yes announced that White would not feature on the band's upcoming 50th Anniversary Close To The Edge UK Tour due to health concerns.

The band will now dedicate their 50th Anniversary Close to the Edge UK Tour in June to White. 

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock, as well as sleevenotes for many major record labels. He lives in North London and happily indulges a passion for AC/DC, Chelsea Football Club and Sydney Roosters.