Alan White is considered by many to be one of the greatest rock drummers of all-time. With forty-plus years of performance experience and appearances on over fifty albums, Alan's dossier reads like a who's-who of rock legends. With his consummate professionalism and easy-going nature, Alan continues to be an inspiration to fellow musicians as well as fans.
Born in Pelton, Co. Durham, in northern England on June 14th, 1949, Alan is the only child of May and Raymond White. At the age of six, Alan began taking piano lessons and in time it became apparent that his style was very percussive. Noticing this, he was given his first drum kit by his Uncle Ken, also a drummer.
Alan took to the drums immediately, and began performing publicly with a local band just three months later, at the ripe old age of 13. Throughout the mid to late 1960s, Alan continued to hone his craft in England and Europe with a variety of bands, including The Downbeats, The Gamblers, Billy Fury, Alan Price Big Band, Bell and Arc, Terry Reid, and Happy Magazine (later called Griffin) and Balls with Trevor Burton and Denny Laine.
In the summer of 1968, Alan was asked to join Ginger Baker's Airforce, a new group being put together by the former drummer of Cream and other noted musicians from England's music scene including Steve Winwood, formerly of Traffic.
In 1969, Alan received what he thought at the time to be a prank phone call, but was actually John Lennon calling to ask Alan to join his 'Plastic Ono Band'. The next day Alan found himself learning songs in the back of an airliner en-route to Toronto with John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton and Klaus Voorman. The ensuing album, 'Live Peace in Toronto', sold millions of copies, peaking at number 10 on the pop charts.
Alan's association with Lennon continued, recording singles like 'Instant Karma' and the subsequent landmark album, 'Imagine', with Alan providing drums for the title song, 'Jealous Guy', and 'How Do You Sleep at Night'. Alan's work with Lennon led to an introduction to George Harrison, who asked Alan to perform on the album 'All Things Must Pass', including the hit single, 'My Sweet Lord', released in 1970.
In June 1972, while on tour with Joe Cocker, Alan got a phone call from his manager, Tony Dimitriades, who said that Yes wanted him to join the band. His current tour was ending so he flew back to England for a meeting with Jon Anderson and Chris Squire, who told him that he was joining Yes or "they were going to throw me out the third-story window," recalls Alan.
Three days later, on June 30th, Yes, along with their new drummer, opened their US tour before 15,000 fans in Dallas, Texas. Alan and Yes gave each other three months to see if it would work out, and more than thirty years later, Alan is an integral part of the band, having played on every Yes studio and live album recorded since.
His first studio endeavor with Yes, the 1974 release 'Tales From Topographic Oceans', saw Alan creating massive multi-rhythmic passages for the track 'Ritual'. When it was performed on Yes' 2000 'Masterworks' tour, 'Ritual', which has nearly the entire band playing percussion together onstage, was a crowd favorite.
Far from just a time-keeper, Alan has written a large part of Yes' music; from the chord sequences for the beautiful 'Turn of the Century', from the album 'Going for the One' (1977), to many of the themes on Tormato (1978) and Drama (1980), to the hypnotic opening to 'Mind Drive', from 'Keys to Ascension 2' (1997).
Never having lost his love for piano, Alan has recorded small parts for Yes as far back as 1974, when he tracked backing piano for the conclusion to 'Ritual', when Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman was unavailable. Alan continues to play piano to this day, and was featured on several tracks on Yes' 2001 album 'Magnification', as well as live keyboard performances on the subsequent tour.
Time off from the Yes' hectic touring and recording schedule allows Alan to pursue other projects as well. With longtime friend and technical guru, Reek N. Havok, he formed 'Crash and Bang', to provide music for the entertainment industry, including video games and television shows. "It also serves as a testing ground for new music hardware and software and new approaches to music and it's psychological effects on the user and an excuse to plug the wrong things together just to see what happens!", adds Reek.
Alan has also collaborated with MerKaBa, a Seattle, Washington-based band with music rooted partly in native cultures, spirituality and love for the earth. Alan has performed live on many occasions with MerKaBa, as well as providing songs and performances on studio releases.
In recent years, Alan has performed with a variety of artists, including Spencer Davis, The Ventures, Charlie Daniels, Eddie Money, and Roger Fisher, to name but a few. He also conducts numerous drum clinics around the world, to encourage and teach other drummers.
Alan and his wife Gigi are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary in May 2007. Their son Jesse graduated from Full Sail with a Bachelor's degree in recording arts and science and is currently working as a network engineer while continuing to write music independently for film and television. Their daughter Cassi is a 2006 graduate of Washington State University with a degree in psychology, minor in sociology, and a certificate in Abnormal Child Psychology. She hopes to begin working on her Master's degree in Child Psychology later next year.
Updated May 2007