Alan White was born in Pelton, County Durham in northern England on 14 June 1949. At six, he started piano lessons but switched to drums at 13. Within three months, he was peforming publicly with a local band.
From the mid to late 1960s, Alan worked in a number of bands including The Downbeats, Billy Fury, Alan Price Big Band, Happy Magazine (later Griffin) and Balls (along with Denny Laine and Trevor Burton). Alan joined Ginger Baker’s Air Force during the summer of 1969 following the breakup of Baker’s previous lineup, Blind Faith (with Eric Clapton).
His first big break came in 1969 when John Lennon invited him to play with the Plastic Ono Band at the Live Peace In Toronto Concert. This was when Alan met Eric Clapton. He continued working in the studio with Lennon, recording the single “Instant Karma” and the landmark album, Imagine. It also led to work on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, including the hit song, “My Sweet Lord”.
For the next several years, he was much in demand as a session player. While on tour with Joe Cocker in 1972, Alan was invited to join Yes by Jon Anderson and Chris Squire. Alan still tours and records with Yes.