Alan White began piano studies at the age of six. Told he had a percussive style, at age thirteen he switched to drums and three months later he was on stage playing with a local band. Throughout the late sixties he played with bands around his hometown in Northern England. Occasionally he made trips to Europe with various bands such as the Downbeats, the Gamblers, Billy Fury, Alan Price Big Band, Bell and Arc, Terry Reid, Happy Magazine, and Balls.
In the summer of 1968 he joined Ginger Baker's Airforce, a group put together by the former drummer of Cream, and Steve Winwood of Traffic. During this period Alan also formed his own band and rehearsed original material that focused on more complex time signatures and unusual arrangements.
In 1969 Alan's biggest break came when he received a phone call from John Lennon inviting him to play with the Plastic Ono Band. The following day he found himself on a plane headed to Toronto to play a live concert performance with John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, and Klaus Voorman. John recognized Alan's talents as a drummer and asked him to accompany him on such memorable songs as "Imagine", "Instant Karma", "How Do You Sleep At Night", "Jealous Guy", and others.
Alan's work with John led to an introduction to George Harrison, who asked Alan to perform on the album ALL THINGS MUST PASS and the hit song "My Sweet Lord". In the next few years Alan became a highly sought-after session drummer and played with numerous bands on more than 30 albums.
In 1972, while on tour with Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Alan's manager informed him of a call from the band Yes, asking him to join them. He was familiar with the band through a friendship with their producer Eddie Offord.
Alan's varied musical background and his experiences in his own group enabled him to climb onto the Yes drum rostrum on short notice with comparative ease. He had only three days to learn Yes' extensive and complex repertoire before he was on the stage with them in Dallas on June 30, 1972, before 15,000 fans.
Alan and Yes gave each other three months to see if their styles were compatible. Twenty-five years later Alan is still writing, and playing, with Yes.
His basic philosophy was to take the already complex and intricate musical patterns, break it down to a degree, and add a little heavier approach. "Let it breath and make it swing."
He spends many free moments writing at the piano in the studio. Playing the piano resulted in his having a highly developed melodic sense to compliment his rhythmic side. On the drums he has always been the powerful, subtle if necessary, engine of Yes.
Considered one of the world's greatest drummers, Alan can lay down a barrage that gets the fans rocking no matter where they are in the arena. To his merit, he also knows when to lay back, take it easy, and allow the subtleties of Yes' music to come through.
His first love may be the drums, but he has been doing more and more writing for Yes in the new century. It is those other sides of his musical nature that makes all the difference between Alan White being your typical musician and the great one he is. His talent will be enjoyed for years to come as he explores new avenues for himself and Yes to
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