Later he worked with a number of bands during the late 1960s, notably the Alan Price Set, before being invited to join Ginger Baker's Airforce with Steve Winwood in 1968. The following year, 1969, White received a call from John Lennon (he thought it was a prankster) asking him to join the Plastic Ono Band for a show that became the hit album, Live Peace in Toronto.
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 his 'Plastic Ono Band'. The next day Alan found himself learning songs in the back of an airliner en-route to Toronto with John 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'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 1972, White was touring with Joe Cocker when he received an invitation to join Yes, to replace Bill Bruford who had left to join King Crimson. Three days after meeting with Jon Anderson and Chris Squire, White played at the first show of the group's US Close to the Edge tour. Despite the fact that White had spent time in the studio with the band and even tried playing some of the Close to the Edge material, it was still a substantial challenge for him to learn the band's live set in just three days. White and the band gave each other three months to see if he fit in, 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.
As mentioned above, 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.
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).
In addition to his drum playing, White has played piano and written music for several Yes albums.
Never having lost his love for piano, Alan has recorded small 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.
Alan White released his only solo album, Ramshackled, in 1976.
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 N. 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.
Alan has also collaborated with MerKaBa, a Seattle, Washington-based band with music rooted partly in native cultures, spirituality and love for the earth. Alan has performed live on many occasions with MerKaBa, as well as providing songs and performances on studio releases.
Having guested with local Seattle band MerKaBa on a number of occasions, Alan White and MerKaBa also had links with another local band, Treason. In 2003, Alan White joined sessions for a new MerKaBa album, but these evolved into a new band, called White, and an album's worth of demo recordings under the name Loyal. As well as Alan, the band consisted of Kevin Currie (from MerKaBa; lead vocals), Karl Haug (from Treason); electric & acoustic guitars, lap steel), Steve Boyce (from MerKaBa; bass, guitar, backing vocals) and Ted Stockwell (from Treason and MerKaBa; keys, guitar). Stockwell left the band and, in April 2005, was replaced by Alan's former colleague in Yes, keyboardist Geoff Downes. A new album, White, was recorded, partly based on the Loyal demos. The album was released in 2006, with a cover by Roger Dean.
The band has played live (with various keyboardists) in the Seattle area. They were due to join the abortive More Drama Tour. The More Drama Tour, scheduled to begin in North America in August 2005, was to have seen three acts, The Syn, White and Steve Howe touring together, with Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White and Geoff Downes playing Yes material at the end of the evening (with Currie handling lead vocals). However, the tour was cancelled shortly before it was due to begin. Alan White later joined The Syn touring band for dates in the first half of 2006.
Subsequently, Alan White has been working on projects with Billy Sherwood, notably in the initial line-up of Circa, with a third Yes alumnus, Tony Kaye.
In recent years, Alan has performed with a variety of artists, including Spencer Davis, The Ventures, Charlie Daniels, Eddie Money, and Roger Fisher, to name but a few. He also conducts numerous drum clinics around the world, to encourage and teach other drummers.
Alan and his wife Gigi celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in May 2007 [congratulations on that milestone Alan ~DD]. Their son Jesse graduated from Full Sail with a Bachelor's degree in recording arts and science and is currently working as a network engineer while continuing to write music independently for film and television. Their daughter Cassi is a 2006 graduate of Washington State University with a degree in psychology, minor in sociology, and a certificate in Abnormal Child Psychology. She hopes to begin working on her Master's degree in Child Psychology later next year.
In 2010, the band White re-emerged after a hiatus with a new line-up of Alan White, Haug and Boyce joined by two musicians from Yes tribute band Parallels, who have previously worked with Alan: vocalist Robyn Dawn and keyboardist Jonathan Sindelman.