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.
young_alanAlan 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 the Plastic Ono Band. The next day Alan found himself learning songs in the back of an airliner en-route to Toronto with 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 White with John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band:
Plastic Ono BandAlan’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).
Madison Square GardenNever having lost his love for piano, Alan has recorded several keyboard 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 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.
In 2005, Alan formed a new band, aptly called White, who released their self-titled debut album in January 2006. White performs regularly in the Seattle-area, when time permits.
In recent years, Alan has performed with a variety of artists, including Spencer Davis, The Ventures, Charlie Daniels and Eddie Money, to name but a few. In 2007, Alan played alongside Keith Emerson, Simon Kirk and Yes bassist Chris Squire at the Ahmet Ertegün memorial show, as part of the opening act for Led Zeppelin. He also conducts numerous drum clinics around the country and around the world to encourage and teach other drummers.
Alan and his wife Gigi are very active in the Seattle arts community, serving on the board of directors for Music Aid Northwest, Northwest Program for the Arts, and the Seattle Theatre Group. Alan is also a member of the Seattle Chapter of The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. (taken from the offical website)
Ramshackled is the only solo album by Alan White, drummer for British progressive rock band Yes. It was released in 1976 on Atlantic Records, during a period when all five of the Yes band members (Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Patrick Moraz and White) released solo albums. White only performed drums on the album and neither wrote nor sang any of the songs.
White had worked with Pete Kirtley and Kenny Craddock in the Alan Price Set and Happy Magazine. White, Kirtley, Craddock and Colin Gibson then worked together in the short-lived Griffin in 1969. In the early 1970s, White, Kirtley, Craddock, Gibson and Bud Beadle played together in unsigned band Simpson’s Pure Oxygen. Craddock was also in the second line up of Lindisfarne who released two albums between 1973 and 1975. For his debut solo album, White brought Kirtley, Craddock, Gibson and Beadle back together.
Fellow Yes members, Jon Anderson and Steve Howe, guested on “Spring: Song of Innocence”. Gibson and wind player Bud Beadle also appeared on Steve Howe’s own solo album from the same period, Beginnings. Although he does not appear on the album, Patrick Moraz has a cameo in the promotional video.
Yes subsequently toured in 1976, with initial dates of the tour including material from the members’ solo albums, including “One Way Rag” and “Song of Innocence”, but these were soon dropped.
AllMusic’s Alex Anderson found the album highly uneven and noted that the album’s hodgepodge of popular styles failed to appeal to the progressive rock fanbase White had gained with Yes. He concluded “Although Ramshackled isn’t terrible, most of the Yes fans who bought it agreed that their money hadn’t been well spent.” (wikipedia)
After reading Allmusic’s review I did not expect much, but the album turned out to be highly enjoyable. It’s a diverse set that touches on salsa, soul, fusion, blues, prog, reggae, classical, pop and more.
The album is not at all like Yes, but the high standards of musicality remain, with intricate brass, string and backing vocal arrangements. Such a varied set allowed the bandleader to explore a range of tasty and intricate grooves that he probably could not use in his day job, and he plays them all with his usual precision, skill and taste.
Avakak is the seven-minute prog/fusion centrepiece of the album. Intricate and creative, it is worth the admission price alone. Giddy is an excellent uptempo soul piece. The closer, Darkness is unusual, transforming from a smooth blues tune to a prog piece, like the love child of Pretzel Logic and King Crimson’s Islands.
The album is not perfect, with some obvious musical clichés and some distracting vocals in Ooh Baby and Silly Woman (the track titles suggest this), but the music is largely played with passion, skill and taste. (Greta Courtney)
Kenny Craddock (keyboards, synthesizer, vocals)
Colin Gibson (bass, percussion)
Pete Kirtley (guitar, vocals)
Alan Marshall (vocals)
Alan White (drums, percussion)
Jon Anderson (vocals on 04.)
Steve Howe (guitar on 04.)
Bud Beadle (saxophone, flute)
Steve Gregory (saxophone, flute)
Henry Lowther (trumpet)
Madeline Bell – Vicki Brown – Joanne Williams
01. Ooh Baby (Goin’ To Pieces) (Kirtley) 5.34
02. One Way Rag (Gibson/Craddock) 4.08
03. Avakak (aka Twelve Ways To Drink Meths) (Craddock/Gibson/Kirtley) 6.55
04. Spring-Song Of Innocence (Kirtley/Blake) 5.02
05. Giddy (Craddock/Gibson) 3.13
06. Silly Woman (Kirtley) 3.16
07. Marching Into A Bottle (Craddock) 2.00
08. Everybody (Craddock/Gibson/Kirtley) 3.15
09. Darkness, Pts. 1–3 (Craddock/Gibson) 5.34
The offical website: