Alan White (Yes drummer)

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Alan White
Background information
Born (1949-06-14) 14 June 1949 (age 69)
Origin Ferryhill, County Durham, England
Genres Progressive rock, pop rock, hard rock
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Drums, percussion
Years active 1967–present
Labels Atlantic
Associated acts Yes, Circa, White, The Syn, Plastic Ono Band, John Lennon

Alan White (born 14 June 1949) is an English rock drummer and songwriter best known for his work with the progressive rock band Yes. White was also a member of the Plastic Ono Band, playing live in 1969 at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival, which was recorded and released three months later as Live Peace in Toronto 1969. In all, White has appeared on over fifty albums with artists including John Lennon, George Harrison, Joe Cocker, Ginger Baker, and The Ventures.[1]


Early years

Born in Pelton, County Durham, White later moved to the nearby town of Ferryhill, County Durham by the age of 7 where he would spend the rest of his childhood.[2] White began learning to play the piano at age six and, after switching to drums, played publicly with a local band called the Downbeats at 13.[3] Later, he worked with a number of bands during the late 1960s, notably the Alan Price Set. In 1969, White received a call from John Lennon (he thought it was a prankster),[4] asking him to join the Plastic Ono Band for a show that became the hit album, Live Peace in Toronto 1969. He also performed with Lennon on the Imagine album and the single, "Instant Karma". When Lennon introduced White to George Harrison, he was asked to perform on the All Things Must Pass album. In late 1969, White joined Ginger Baker's Air Force with Steve Winwood.[5]

With Yes

White during a Yes concert
at Gran Teatro del Banco Central
del Paraguay December 1, 2010.

In 1972, White was touring with Joe Cocker when he received an invitation to join Yes, to replace Bill Bruford who had left to join King Crimson.[3] Three days after meeting with Jon Anderson and Chris Squire, White played at the first show of the group's US Close to the Edge tour. Despite the fact that White had spent time in the studio with the band and even tried playing some of the Close to the Edge material, it was still a substantial challenge for him to learn the band's live set in just three days.[6] White and the band gave each other three months to see if he fitted in, and some 40 years later, he has appeared on every Yes album since.

Alan White released his only solo album, Ramshackled, in 1976.

In addition to his drum playing, White has played piano and written music for several Yes albums.

New band projects in the 2000s (decade)

Alan White had guested with local Seattle band MerKaBa on a number of occasions and Alan White and MerKaBa also had links with another local band, Treason. In 2003, Alan White joined sessions for a new MerKaBa album, but these evolved into a new band, called White, and an album's worth of demo recordings under the name Loyal. As well as Alan, the band consisted of Kevin Currie (from MerKaBa; lead vocals), Karl Haug (from Treason); electric & acoustic guitars, lap steel), Steve Boyce (from MerKaBa; bass, guitar, backing vocals) and Ted Stockwell (from Treason and MerKaBa; keys, guitar). Stockwell left the band and, in April 2005, was replaced by Alan's former colleague in Yes, keyboardist Geoff Downes. A new album, White, was recorded, partly based on the Loyal demos. The album was released in 2006, with a cover by Roger Dean.[7]

The band has played live (with various keyboardists) in the Seattle area. They were due to join the abortive More Drama Tour. The More Drama Tour, scheduled to begin in North America in August 2005, was to have seen three acts, The Syn, White and Steve Howe touring together, with Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White and Geoff Downes playing Yes material at the end of the evening (with Currie handling lead vocals). However, the tour was cancelled shortly before it was due to begin. Alan White later joined The Syn touring band for dates in the first half of 2006.[3]

Subsequently, Alan White has been working on projects with Billy Sherwood, notably in the initial line-up of Circa, with a third Yes alumnus, Tony Kaye.

In 2010, the band White re-emerged after a hiatus with a new line-up of Alan White, Haug and Boyce joined by two musicians from Yes tribute band Parallels, who have previously worked with Alan: vocalist Robyn Dawn and keyboardist Jonathan Sindelman.[7][8]


White has been married for over twenty years to Gigi.[9] They have two children, Jesse[10] (also a musician) and Cassi.[10] He currently lives in Newcastle, Washington.


  • 15 January 2006 : "Lifetime Achievement Award" by the Guitar Center of Los Angeles.



With The Alan Price Set

  • A Price on His Head (1967)
  • The Amazing Alan Price (EP), (1967)
  • This Price is Right, (1968)

With John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band

Single ;

  • Instant Karma!/Who has Seen The Wind - Alan plays drums, piano and does back-up vocals on Instant Karma!
  • Imagine/It's So Hard - Plays drums on Imagine

Albums ;

  • Live Peace in Toronto 1969, 13 September 1969
  • Imagine, (John Lennon, 1971) - Plays drums on "Imagine," "Gimme Some Truth," "Oh My Love," "How Do You Sleep?," "How?," and "Oh Yoko!"; Tibetan cymbals on "Oh My Love"; vibraphone on "Jealous Guy"
  • Some Time In New-York City 1972 - Plays on the Live Jam at the Lyceum Ballroom in London, England on 15 December 1969, for a UNICEF charity concert. Side three

With Yes

With White

  • White (2006)

With The Syn

  • Armistice Day (2006/07)

With Circa

With Tony Levin and David Torn

  • Levin/Torn/White (2011)

Other appearances and sessions

  • The Downbeats: "My Bonnie" (single)
  • The Blue Chips: "I'm on the Right Side" (single)
  • The Blue Chips: "Some Kind of Loving" (single)
  • The Blue Chips: "Good Loving Never Hurts" (single)
  • The Gamblers: "Dr Goldfoot (and His Bikini Machine)" (single)
  • Happy Magazine: "Satisfied Street" (single)
  • Happy Magazine: "Who Belongs to You" (single)
  • Johnny Almond Music Machine: Patent Pending (1969)
  • Johnny Almond: "Solar Machine" (single) (1969)
  • Doris Troy: You Tore Me Up Inside
  • Billy Preston: Encouraging Words (1969)
  • George Harrison: All Things Must Pass (1970 – others drummers Ringo Starr, Jim Gordon, Ginger Baker)
  • Gary Wright: Extraction (1970); Headin' Home (1979)
  • Paul Kossoff: Back Street Crawler (1973)
  • Denny Laine and Balls: "Fight for My Country" (single) (1971)
  • Sky: Don't Hold Back (1971)
  • Brian Short: Anything for a Laugh (1971)
  • Rick Wakeman: The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1973) With Chris Squire, Bill Bruford & Steve Howe
  • Rick Wakeman: Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record (1977) With Chris Squire
  • Steve Howe: Beginnings (1975) With Bill Bruford & Patrick Moraz
  • Steve Howe: The Steve Howe Album (1979) With Bill Bruford & Patrick Moraz
  • Donovan: "The Music Makers" (1973)
  • Eddie Harris: E.H. in the U.K. (Atlantic, 1973) With Chris Squire & Tony Kaye
  • Johnny Harris: "All To Bring You Morning" (1973) With Jon Anderson & Steve Howe
  • Jimmy Page with Squire on the XYZ project (1981 – "Believe It", "Telephone Secrets", "Fortune Hunter" (demos))
  • Jesse Davis: Jesse Davis
  • Chris Squire: Chris Squire's Swiss Choir (2007; re-release of "Run with the Fox")
  • "Comfortably Numb" on Pigs & Pyramids-An All Star Lineup Performing The Songs of Pink Floyd (2002) and Back Against The Wall (2005), with Chris Squire & Billy Sherwood, both produced by Sherwood
  • "In The Flesh" (+ Steve Porcaro), "Mother" and "Hey You" (+ John Wetton), on Back Against The Wall (2005)
  • "All My Love" on Led Box The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Tribute (2008 – CD2.05), with Tony Kaye & Billy Sherwood, produced by Sherwood
  • Abbey Road - A tribute to the Beatles ; Various Artists (2009) with Tony Kaye and Geoff Downes.

Further work with Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe, Billy Sherwood, Trevor Rabin, Esquire.


  1. Eder, Bruce. "Biography: Alan White". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-04-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. N/A, Simon. "EXCLUSIVE – Yes Interview Pt1". Rush on Rock. Rush on Rock. Retrieved 2014-07-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Alan White Biography". Retrieved 2013-11-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Alan White from Yes: What The Beatles mean to me". 2009-09-11. Retrieved 2011-10-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Ginger Baker History Archive 1970". Retrieved 2013-11-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. [Welch C (2008), "Close to the Edge: The Story of Yes", Omnibus Press]
  7. 7.0 7.1 Pfarr, Tim (2010-08-31). "Alan White will rock Newcastle Days with his band, White". Issaquah Press. Retrieved 2015-01-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "White: The Band". Retrieved 2011-10-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Pfarr, Tim (2010-09-02). "Yes, Alan White is ready to rock Newcastle Days". Newcastle News. Retrieved 2011-10-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 Vivinetto, Gina (2002-10-20). "A Classic Lineup for Classic Rock Series". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2015-01-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links