Yes drummer Alan White dies aged 72


Alan White, the longtime drummer for progressive rock pioneers Yes who also played in projects with John Lennon and George Harrison, has passed away. He was 72.

White’s death was announced on his Facebook page by his family. According to the post, he died Thursday at his home in the Seattle area after a short illness. Just days earlier, Yes had announced that due to health issues, White would not be joining the band’s upcoming tour of the UK to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic album “Close to the Edge”.

White joined Yes in 1972, replacing original drummer Bill Bruford. In a band known for frequent lineup changes, White was a constant and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Yes in 2017.

While he didn’t play on “Close to the Edge,” he performed on every subsequent Yes studio album for nearly five decades, including the band’s last release, “The Quest,” which came out last year.

White stayed with the band through many iterations. Yes was a pioneering act in England’s progressive rock scene that grew in popularity in the early 1970s alongside bands such as Genesis, Pink Floyd and Jethro Tull. Yes was best known for his intricate arrangements and the musical prowess of its individual members.

When progressive rock went out of style in the late 1970s, many of the bands associated with the genre struggled.

After another lineup change, Yes, with White still behind the drum kit, reinvented themselves in the 1980s as a harder band that appealed to younger listeners more attuned to heavy metal and the visual cues of music videos. In 1983, Yes released the big hit album “90125”.

White lived in Seattle for a long time and was born in Pelton, County Durham, England in 1949. His family said he started piano lessons at age 6 and played drums when he was 12.

White played with bands in England in the 1960s. In 1969 he was asked by John Lennon to join his Plastic Ono Band. In a 2021 interview with The Seattle Times, White said he thought the famous Beatle’s phone call was a joke.

“A voice announced, ‘Hello, this is John Lennon,'” White said. “I thought it was a buddy who pulled my leg, put down the receiver, and went back to the kitchen.”

White played a 1969 concert in Toronto with Lennon’s band, which also included guitarist Eric Clapton. White also played with another Beatle and contributed drums to George Harrison’s 1970 solo album “All Things Must Pass”.

In the statement announcing his death, his family wrote, “Alan was a lot to many people: a certified rock star to fans around the world; bandmate to a select few, and a gentleman and friend to everyone who met him.”

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