In his third year as a session and touring drummer Alan White shared an apartment with Yes and Emerson Lake and Palmer recording engineer Eddy Offord. One night Offord invited White to stop by a sewing shop on the West End of London where he met the members of Yes.
Alan: They were actually rehearsing for Close To The Edge and they were playing and (drummer) Bill Bruford had to leave because he was going to dinner with somebody.And Eddy said "Well Alan can play the drums.Why don't you play the song (Siberian Khatru) so everybody can go through it?" So it's basically bar of 8, bar of 7 intro and I was quite used to that because of the band I was playing in so I just got into it and played it and they all kind of went "He knows how to do this stuff".
Skip ahead two to three week later: Bill Bruford has left the band to join King Crimson. Alan is finishing up a European tour with Joe Cocker when he gets a phone call.
Alan:(Jon Anderson said) "We want you to join the band. We know you can do this. Just listen to the music", and he said "This is the set list."
He said "We've got a gig on Monday in Dallas, Texas" and I said "Are you joking? I can't learn all this stuff in that time."
He said "We just have to go for it" so that's what I did.
Alan smack in the middle of Yes, 1973
By this time Yes had already recorded five albums including two classics, The Yes Album and Close to the Edge. Alan had his work cut out for him.
Alan: It's not like riding a bicycle like some songs.When you play songs like ( the 19 minute )"Close to the Edge" or "Tempus Fugit" from Drama, those songs are just a whole thing you have to go through. Lots of mood changes and different tempos. You just have to,over the years, get it into your head.
It always seemed a bit unfair to Alan that Yes recorded its three disc live album (Yessongs) and concert film on his first tour. But as he approaches 40 years with the band, he says he doesn't spend much time looking back.
Alan: Yes has always been a great vehicle for me to study and move forward. This is the kind of band that doesn't look at the horizon. They always try to see over it and try to create something new. And that, to me, presents a kind of challenge that I like to take on. I always like something new to go for.
Next: "Owner of a Lonely Heart"