Yes Drummer and 'Certified Rock Star' Alan White Dead at 72 After Brief Illness

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Alan White, John Lennon's Drummer Dies at 72
Alan White, John Lennon's Drummer Dies at 72

Alan White

Alan White, a musician best known for his work as the drummer for rock band Yes, has died at 72.

White's family confirmed he died at his "Seattle-area home after a brief illness" in a lengthy social media post Thursday, which also honored his legacy.

"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," the post began.

White was born in Pelton, County Durham, England on June 14, 1949. He started playing the drums at the age of 12 and began performing a year later.

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Throughout the 1960s, White played with a number of bands, including The Downbeats, The Gamblers, Billy Fury, Alan Price Big Band, Bell and Arc and more. In 1968, Alan joined Ginger Baker's Airforce. It wasn't until 1969, however, that White received a call of a lifetime.

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"He 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 post read. "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."

It continued, "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 album, Imagine, with Alan providing drums for the title song, 'Jealous Guy,' and 'How Do You Sleep at Night'.

The drummer's work with Lennon eventually led him to an introduction to George Harrison, who asked him to be a part of the album All Things Must Pass, including single "My Sweet Lord," which was released in 1970.

Alan White, John Lennon's Drummer Dies at 72
Alan White, John Lennon's Drummer Dies at 72

Alan White

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White joined Yes, replacing original drummer Bill Bruford in 1972 and had been with the band ever since — and with the death of founding member, Chris Squire, in June 2015, White was the longest continuously serving band member. In 2017, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the band. Their most recent album The Quest, which White performed on, was released in October 2021.

He is survived by his wife Gigi, whom he married in 1982, along with son Jesse and daughter Cassi.