Best known as the drummer of Yes for more than 30 years, Alan White has also played on some of the greatest recordings in rock history. 1001Songs asked Alan to talk about six of those recordings, beginning with the concert that helped John Lennon decide he didn't need The Beatles anymore.
Alan was only twenty years old when he heard John and Yoko had seen one of his London gigs with his band, Blue Chips.
I got a call the next day saying "I saw you playing last night."
He said "You're really good".
He said "I got a gig for you.Do you want to come and jump into it 'cuz we wont have any time for rehearsals?"
I thought it was a friend of mine just making a joke on me so I put the phone down. I got a call about ten minutes later. He said "No! It's really me." And at that time I almost fell off my chair.
The next day Alan walked into a room and met John and Yoko and bass player Klaus Voorman ( from Manfred Mann. He also designed The Beatles Revolver album)
John said "I forgot to tell you. Eric Clapton's playing guitar and I went (surprised facial expression) "Oh really?"
That day they boarded the plane from London to Toronto.
We went to the back of the plane. There was nobody on the plane
at the back. So two acoustic guitars ( Eric and John). He gave me a set of drumsticks and I played on the back of the seat in front of me and that was the rehearsal for the show.
They landed and got to the Toronto gig with just 45 minutes to spare.
I didn't get any nerves at all about any of that. And I was flung right into this, and it's called "Rising to the Occasion". You just deal with it.
The only thing that perturbed me a little bit is when we got there, Little Richard was on stage, which was incredible, and Gene Vincent was walking around backstage.
The stage crew helped build a drum set for Alan.
John went 1-2-3-4 and that was it.
The set contained a number of rock standards John and Eric knew. "Blue Suede Shoes", "Money" and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy". Then Yoko began singing.
That's the other thing I found very strange because we were in the middle of a number and she got in a bag and laid on the floor at John's feet and was screaming into the microphone. I kept thinking it the feedback coming back from the speakers.
TOMORROW: "Instant Karma"