Drummer Alan White, the longest-tenured member of Yes, died at age 72 following a “brief illness.” White’s family announced the news on Facebook, noting that White died at his Seattle-area home on May 26. The family wrote: “Throughout his life and six-decade career, Alan was many things to many people: a certified rock star to fans around the world; bandmate to a select few, and gentleman and friend to all who met him.”
On Twitter, Yes shared the news, saying in part of a lengthy statement: “It is with deep sadness that YES announce Alan White, their much-loved drummer and friend of 50 years, has passed away, aged 72, after a short illness.” White had suffered from health problems in recent years. He was forced to sit out of Yes in 2016 due to back surgery, and he guested as the second drummer (alongside Jay Schellen) in 2018 while recovering from a bacterial infection. White then sat out of the band’s 50th anniversary U.K. tour due to what Yes described as “current health issues.”
White also performed with John Lennon, George Harrison, Ginger Baker’s Air Force and Joe Cocker early in his career. Lennon invited him to play with his Plastic Ono Band — featuring Ono, Eric Clapton and Klaus Voormann — at the Toronto Rock and Roll Festival. That set led to further session work, including performance on Lennon’s 1970 single “Instant Karma!” and 1971 LP, Imagine, along with Harrison’s 1970 triple album, All Things Must Pass.
White, who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with Yes in 2017, released one solo album, 1976’s Ramshackled. He is survived by his wife of forty years Rogena “Gigi” (née Walberg), his children, Jesse (Emily), their two children JJ and Ellie, and Cassi (Kela), and sister-in-law Andrea Holmqvist (Robert).
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