Alan White, longtime drummer of Yes, has died at age 72 “after a short illness,” the English prog rock band announced on Thursday (May 26).
“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,” the band shared on Instagram alongside a photo of their drummer of 50 years. “He recently celebrated the 40th Anniversary of his marriage to his loving wife Gigi. Alan passed away, peacefully at home.”
His family also confirmed his death with a message on his Facebook page, noting he passed away on Thursday.
The band’s tribute noted that White was “considered one of the greatest drummers of all time.” White — who was born in County Durham, England, on June 14, 1949 — joined Yes in the summer of 1972, after original drummer Bill Bruford left to join King Crimson. Prior to that, John Lennon in 1969 invited him to join the late Beatle and Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band; White contributed to Lennon’s Imagine album, including the iconic title track. His work with Lennon also resulted in White’s collaboration with another Beatle — he played drums on George Harrison’s 1970 release All Things Must Pass.
Yes found chart success in the United States with hits such as “Owner of a Lonely Heart” off 1983’s 90125; the song reached the summit of the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1984. Other hit singles include “Roundabout” — from 1971’s Fragile — peaking at No. 13, and “Leave It,” also from 90125, which reached a high of No. 24. While Yes did not have any No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200, the band did land seven albums in the all-genre chart’s top 10: 1972’s Close to the Edge (No. 3), Fragile (No. 4), 1974’s Relayer (No. 5), 90125 (No. 5), 1973’s Tales From the Topographic Ocean (No. 6), 1977’s Going for the One (No. 8), and 1978’s Tormato (No. 10).
White and the band were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.
In announcing White’s death, Yes noted that the band’s 50th anniversary Close to the Edge tour in the U.K. would be dedicated to its beloved drummer.
White is survived by his wife Gigi, his kids Jesse and Cassie, and two grandchildren.
See Yes’s full tribute to its longtime drummer below.