AUDIO: I recorded Imagine with Lennon, recounts Yes drummer Alan White ahead of Sheffield gig

Yes and Imagine drummer Alan White. Photo Glenn Gottlieb.
Yes and Imagine drummer Alan White. Photo Glenn Gottlieb.

Imagine...being in the same studio as John Lennon when The Beatles legend recorded his classic solo signature hit and possibly greatest musical gift to the world.

Alan White doesn't have to imagine.

Not only was he there, he played drums on the masterpiece, which was recorded at Lennon's home studio at Tittenhurst Park, in May 1971.

AUDIO: Listen to Alan White talk about his amazing career and what it was really like to record Imagine with John Lennon in an exclusive interview with digital editor Graham Walker - CLICK HERE.

Alan - performing with Yes at Sheffield City Hall on Tuesday, May 3 - was also a member of the Plastic Ono Band, playing live in 1969 at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival, which was recorded and released three months later as Live Peace in Toronto 1969.

He has appeared on over 50 albums with artists also including George Harrison, Sheffield's own Joe Cocker, Ginger Baker and The Ventures.

And for a mere 44-years he has also been drummer with progressive rock icons, Yes - playing on all the band's top selling albums including their first number one, 1973's Tales from Topographic Oceans.

The 66-year-old from County Durham, now living in Seattle, in the USA, is still going strong, just like YES - back with an extensive UK and European tour, including the Sheffield City Hall gig on Tuesday, May 3. For tickets and information visit Full tour details below.

He said when he got the telephone call from Lennon he thought it was a prankster and hung up on him - but Lennon called back and got him to do the Plastic Ono Band gig, then record the Imagine album, including the title global smash hit single.

He said of working with Lennon: "With Imagine he just asked me to do the session. I was in the studio and played on Imagine and Jealous guy, all those tracks. There was just a couple I didn't play on. George Harrison was hanging around and had me join and play on My Sweet Lord and at least two thirds of that album.

Alan White played drums on Lennon's classic solo signature hit Imagine

Alan White played drums on Lennon's classic solo signature hit Imagine

"It was great, no pressure. One of the main things I remember, John made you read the lyrics to every song you recorded with him before you played on it. He said, 'look, this is what you are going to say to the world - you don't have to do it, if you don't agree to it.' But you read the words to Imagine and it just makes you stop in your tracks, it's fantastic.

"I got to know John and George pretty well. John was about seven years older than me, he saw me as the young little drummer and took me under his wing. He liked to have me around and enjoyed what I did. He said, 'Alan, whatever you're doing, just keep doing it - it's perfect'. So that's what I did.

"I was only 20 years old when I did that stuff and I was taking it all in my stride, moving from one level to the next. I never thought anything of it at the time.

"About 10 years later I looked back at what I had done and thought, 'wow, did I really do that?'

Yes stars Steve Howe and Jon Davison. Photo by Glenn Gottlieb

Yes stars Steve Howe and Jon Davison. Photo by Glenn Gottlieb

"I've a lot of great memories in my head which will one day come out in a book. I've had numerous offers to write it. I will tell the whole full story some day."

Yes, on their UK tour - full dates below - will perform 1971’s Fragile and 1980’s Drama albums, in their entirety, the latter for the very first time, plus other seminal tracks including their greatest hits Owner of a Lonely Heart and Starship Trooper.

The tour got underway in Glasgow and will end at London's Royal Albert Hall on May 10.

The tour comes just months after the tragic leukaemia death of Yes co-founder bass player vocalist Chris Squire, who was just 67.

"Reliving those years will be very emotional, " said Alan. " I know Chris would have loved to be here with us for this."

He added that his replacement Billy Sherwood is doing a great job as YES set out to honour his memory by keeping the band’s legacy alive.

Yes star Steve Howe playing his 12 string. Photo by Glenn Gottlieb

Yes star Steve Howe playing his 12 string. Photo by Glenn Gottlieb

The other co-founder was Jon Anderson, who has been back in and out of Yes, but has not part of it now or 12 years. Keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman was also a huge part of the band's history. Alan believes they could all team up again in the future.

Characterized by a unique, prog symphonic style of rock music, lengthy compositions and the use of mystical and cosmic lyrics, the band formed in 1968 and found success in 1971 with two of the band’s most celebrated records, The Yes Album and Fragile.

They went on to record 21 albums and win several prestigious awards including Grammys. Yes is recognized as one of the most influential icons in prog rock.

Still as relevant today as they were in the 70s, Yes has maintained a loyal following while constantly attracting new crowds of music fans throughout 47 years of outstanding career. With Fragile and Drama representing two essential moments of the band’s history, it will be an opportunity for all to rediscover some undisputed gems of the genre.

Yes UK Tour Dates 2016


Wed 27: Glasgow Royal Concert Hall 0141 353 8000

Fri 29: Newcastle City Hall 0191 277 8030

Sat 30: Manchester Apollo 08444 777 677


Mon 2: Liverpool Philharmonic 0151 709 3789

Tue 3: Sheffield City Hall 0114 2789 789

Wed 4: Bristol Colston Hall 0844 887 1500

Fri 6: Birmingham Symphony Hall 0121 345 0602

Sat 7: Brighton Brighton Centre 0844 847 1515

Mon 9: Oxford New Theatre 0844 871 3020

Tue 10: London Royal Albert Hall 0207 589 8212

Dates for rest of EUROPE

13: Paris FRANCE Olympia

14: Brussels BELGIUM Ancienne Belgique

15: Utrecht NETHERLANDS Tivolivredenburg

17: Hamburg GERMANY Mehr Theater

19: Frankfurt GERMANY Alte Oper

20: Leipzig GERMANY Haus Avensee

21: Berlin GERMANY Admiralspalast

23: Bonn GERMANY Beethovenhalle

24: StuttgartGERMANY Hegelsaal

25 Munich GERMANY Cirkus Krone

27 Zurich SWITZERLAND Volkshaus

28 Milan ITALY Teatro Nazionale

29 Padova ITALY Gran Teatro Geox

31 Florence ITALY Obihall


1 Rome ITALY Teatro

Billy Sherwood and Alan White. Photo by Glenn Gottlieb

Billy Sherwood and Alan White. Photo by Glenn Gottlieb