Alan White, who manned the drumset for the English progressive (Prog) rock band Yes for 50 years—after former drummer Bill Bruford's departure to join those other progressive rockers, King Crimson—died on Thursday, May 26, following an illness lasting only a few days. White was 72.
Prior to joining Yes, White made his name as a drummer for the rock elite, such as Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker, and John Lennon. White performed live in John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band as well as in the studio for Lennon’s songs “Instant Karma” and “Imagine.” White also performed on George Harrison's All Things Must Pass album.
White became a member of Yes in 1972. He faced the daunting task of mastering the band's complicated and extensive live setlist in just three days, as the group was getting ready to begin its U.S. tour. White did a great job and proved it with his impressive work during the live recording of the album Yessongs, which was recorded during a concert. He also participated in the songwriting process during his long time with the group.
Yes, together with Emerson Lake & Palmer, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Genesis, and many others, created an entire musical genre of their own. Though rooted in British R&B and soul, these groups quickly incorporated influences that ranged from jazz to avant-garde classical and classic English folk, combining the two to make rock'n'roll just as much of a virtuoso art style as it was dance music. They were loved by fans, but critics hated the genre, and its ascendance to commercial success lasted only a couple of years. Yet, deep within every collection of classic rock, you will find the originals from The Yes Album, Fragile, along with Close to The Edge. Prog might not have been long in fashion, but it's still in the minds of those looking for an album that pushes the boundaries.
White leaves his wife of more than 40 years as well as their son and daughter. Godspeed, Alan White.