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Yes drummer for 50 years, Alan White also played on ” Conceived by John Lennon and All Things Must Pass by George Harrison.

Yes drummer Alan White, who joined the progressive rock band in 1972 and remained with them for the next 50 years, has died aged 72 from illness.

Best known for his work with Yes, White also played with John Lennon in the Plastic Ono Band (he can be found on “ Instant Karma! ” and ” Conceived ”) and with George Harrison on All Things Must Pass.

Throughout his life and his six-decade career, Alan has been many things to many people.his family wrote in a statement confirming his death. A certified rock star for fans everywhere; a bandmate to a select few, and a gentleman and friend to all who met him “.

White was born in Pelton, County Durham, England on June 14, 1949. He started playing drums at the age of 12 and performed in London clubs the following year. His life changed forever in 1969 when he received a call from John Lennon. ” I thought it was a friend trying to make fun of me, so I hung up the phoneWhite told RollingStone in 2019. Eventually I got another call and he told me he was doing a gig in Toronto, asked if I was available to play drums and he could send a car to pick me up the next morning. »

Before you know it, White was on a plane to Toronto alongside Eric Clapton, Yoko Ono and Klaus Voormann. Lennon was making a rare live appearance at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival and needed a drummer. White played the gig with almost no rehearsals. ” Suddenly the chopsticks were thrown into my hand and John counted, “1, 2, 3”recalls White. And we were among the first. It was a bit like a flash in the pan. »

Satisfied with his work, Lennon invites him into the studio to work on Conceived. He is one of the three drummers on the record, along with Jim Keltner and Jim Gordon, but he is the one chosen to work on the legendary title track. “ I remember at one point the song started with the drums at the very beginning and the band playing, White told RollingStone. John played it so well by himself on the piano that I said, ‘Why not do the first verse like that?’ He replied: “That’s a good idea. What do you think, Phil [Spector] ?” The next moment we tried it like that and John kept it. »

The experience on Conceived led him to record with George Harrison on All Things Must Pass, also produced by Spector. White is on several songs, although the sessions were so bumpy that there are no proper credits. White claimed to have performed on ” My Sweet Lord but this has been disputed. ” It was a larger grouprecalls White. It was Delaney and Bonnie’s group, George and Eric. There were a lot of people in the studio every day for about three weeks. When we were all there, we decided who played what. George would say, “One of you is playing the drums”. That’s how we recorded a lot of these songs. »

A few years later, Yes parted ways with founding drummer Bill Bruford. White was offered the job because bassist Chris Squire and frontman Jon Anderson had seen him play with Joe Cocker and liked his work. Only they had a gig three days later in Dallas, Texas, and virtually no time to rehearse. ” I spent the whole weekend listening to the music and getting used to it. And then I found myself in Dallas hitting the stage with Yes with hardly any rehearsals. “.

The musicians paraded at Yes over the next few decades, but Alan White remained loyal to the band. His work fuels innovative prog albums like Tales From Topographic Oceans and Relayas well as their more pop work in the 1980s, including the worldwide hit single “ Owner Of a Lonely Heart “. White’s most recent studio work with Yes was the album The Questreleased in 2021. He has spent more years in the group than any other member.

When the band went on a short hiatus in the early 1980s, White played with Squire and Jimmy Page on a project they called XYZ, which stands for “Ex Yes and Zeppelin.” None of their music was ever officially released, but recordings did eventually surface.

Alan White continued to tour extensively with Yes into the 2000s, even after Anderson left in 2008. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.

Health issues sidelined him on recent tours, but he was on stage for the evening’s final songs. When he spoke with RollingStone three years ago, he hoped to be able to play full gigs with the band in the future. “ I had back surgery a few years ago. I have steadily improved since then and am starting to play more and more. It’s pretty good right now and I feel good every day. I go forward. »

He last played with the band on July 28, 2019 at The Mountain Winery in Saratoga Springs, California. The encore that evening brought his career full circle: a cover of ” Conceived by John Lennon.

Andy Greene

Translated by the editor

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