NEWCASTLE, Wash. - Alan White, the renowned drummer for the band YES and who played on John Lennon's 1971 ‘Imagine’ album, has died. He was 72.
His family wrote on Facebook that he died in his Newcastle home on May 26 after a brief illness.
White rose to fame in 1969, when he received a phone call that he initially thought was a prank: John Lennon called to ask White if he wanted to join the Plastic Ono Band. A day after that phone call, he found himself learning songs in the back of an airliner headed to Toronto with Lennon, Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, and Klaus Voormann, according to his family.
The ensuing album, Live Peace in Toronto, sold millions of copies, peaking at number 10 on the charts.
White’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’.
His work with Lennon led to an introduction to George Harrison, who asked Alan to perform on the album All Things Must Pass, including the single, ‘My Sweet Lord’, released in 1970, his family said.
In 1972, White joined YES and had only three days to learn their music before opening their U.S. tour in Dallas, Texas on July 30, 1972. He has been with the band ever since. He was also the longest continuously serving band member, along with late founding member Chris Squire.
In his early career, White also worked with the likes of The Downbeats, The Gamblers, Billy Fury, Alan Price Big Band, Bell and Arc, Terry Reid, Happy Magazine (later called Griffin), and Balls with Trevor Burton (The Move) and Denny Laine (Wings).
White is survived by his wife of 40 years, Gigi, and their two children.
The family has not made any announcements for funeral services.