SEATTLE — Alan White, the longtime drummer for Yes who also played for John Lennon and George Harrison, died at his Seattle home on Thursday, his family said on social media. He was 72.
White died after a short illness, the BBC reported.
White, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Yes in 2017, also excelled on drums for Lennon in the former Beatles’ 1970 single, “Instant Karma!”
White also played on “Imagine” with Lennon, and was featured on Harrison’s triple album, “All Things Must Pass,” Rolling Stone reported.
“Throughout his life and six-decade career, Alan was many things to many people,” his family wrote in a statement confirming his death. “A certified rock star to fans around the world; band mate to a select few, and gentleman and friend to all who met him.”
On October 28, 2017, to celebrate the band’s induction into the Hall, White played the 1972 Yes hit, “Roundabout,” during a halftime performance with the University of Washington Husky Marching Band, KIRO-TV reported.
White was born in Pelton, County Durham, England, on June 14, 1949. He took piano lessons when he was 6 years old and began playing the drums six years later, KIRO reported.
He joined Yes in 1972, replacing the band’s original drummer, Bill Bruford, who left to join King Crimson, Variety reported.
White remained with the band for nearly five decades, including its 1983 comeback album “90215, which yielded the single, “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” the entertainment website reported.
White’s career took a dramatic turn when he received a telephone call from Lennon, who wanted the drummer to join his Plastic Ono Band that was performing in Toronto. He was part of the band that included Lennon, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann and Yoko Ono and appeared on the album, “Live Peace in Toronto,” KIRO reported.
“I thought it was a friend trying to joke with me, so I put the phone down,” White told Rolling Stone in 2019. “Eventually I got a call back and he told me he was doing a gig in Toronto and was I available to play drums and can he send a car to pick me up the next morning.”
White played the show, held in front of some 20,000 fans at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium on Sept. 13, 1969, with almost no rehearsal, according to Variety.
“Suddenly, the sticks were thrown into my hand and John counted, “1, 2, 3,” White told Rolling Stone. “And we were in the first number. It was all kind of a flash in a pan.”
With the passing of Yes founding member Chris Squire in 2015, White was the longest continuously serving band member, the BBC reported.
Over the years, White also performed with Joe Cocker, Steve Winwood, Terry Reid and Ginger Baker, according to Variety.
He last played with Yes on July 28, 2019, at The Mountain Winery in Saratoga Springs, California, Rolling Stone reported. The encore that night took his career full circle, as the band covered “Imagine,” according to the magazine.
Earlier this year, thieves broke into White’s home and ransacked it, stealing the drum kit White used to record the “Imagine” album, KIRO reported.
Police later identified the thieves but the drum kit was never recovered, according to the television station.
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