Just days after Yes announced that Alan White wouldn’t be able to play on the band’s upcoming tour due to health concerns, today the band announced that he has passed away at age 72. White has been a mainstay behind the drum kit for Yes since 1972. In an interview for Progarchy back in 2015, White commented on playing with the band for so long, “When I joined the band I said, ‘I’ll give you guys three months and see if I enjoy it and you give me three months and see if you enjoy it as a band.’ And I’m still here forty-three years later, so there must be something working.”
Health issues the past several years have limited how much Alan played with the band, with Jay Schellen filling in, but that still hadn’t stopped him from coming out towards the end of the concerts and showing the audience he still had it. I saw Yes on their 50th anniversary tour a few years ago, and they were phenomenal.
Here’s the full press release from the band:
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. The news has shocked and stunned the entire YES family.
Alan had been looking forward to the forthcoming UK Tour, to celebrating his 50th Anniversary with YES and their iconic Close To The Edge album, where Alan’s journey with YES began in July 1972.
He recently celebrated the 40th Anniversary of his marriage to his loving wife Gigi. Alan passed away, peacefully at home.
Alan was born in 1949 in County Durham. A number of health setbacks, since 2016, had restricted Alan’s time on stage with YES on recent tours with Jay Schellen filling in and Alan joining the band, to great applause, towards the end of each set.
Alan was considered to be one of the greatest rock drummers of all time and joined YES in 1972 for the Close to the Edge Tour. He had previously worked with John Lennon’s Plastic Ono band after a call, in 1969, to play at the Toronto Rock Festival. Alan continued working with Lennon including on the Imagine album and with George Harrison on All Things Must Pass. He also worked with several other musicians, over the years, including Ginger Baker’s Air Force, Joe Cocker, Gary Wright, Doris Troy and Billy Preston to name but a few. Alan White was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of YES in 2017.
YES will dedicate their 50th Anniversary Close to the Edge UK Tour in June to White.