Andy White (drummer)

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Andy White
Andy White (drummer).jpg
White at Skidmore College in 2006
Background information
Birth name Andrew White
Born(1930-07-27)27 July 1930
Glasgow, Scotland
Died 9 November 2015(2015-11-09) (aged 85)
Caldwell, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres Pop/rock, rock and roll, swing
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Drums, percussion
Years active 1950s–1970s
Associated acts The Beatles
The Smithereens

Andrew White (27 July 1930 – 9 November 2015) was a Scottish drummer, primarily a session musician. He was named one of the "fifth Beatles" [1] as he is best known for replacing Ringo Starr on drums on the Beatles' first single, "Love Me Do". [2] White was featured on the American 7" single release of the song, which also appeared on the band's debut British album, Please Please Me . He also played on "P.S. I Love You", which was the B-side of "Love Me Do". [3] [4]

The fifth Beatle is an informal title that various commentators in the press and entertainment industry have applied to people who were at one point a member of the Beatles, or who had a strong association with the "Fab Four" during the group's existence. The "fifth Beatle" claims first appeared in the press immediately upon the band's rise to global fame in 1963–64. The members have offered their own beliefs of the "fifth Beatle":

Ringo Starr British musician, drummer of the Beatles

Sir Richard Starkey, known professionally as Ringo Starr, is an English musician, singer, songwriter and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for the Beatles. He occasionally sang lead vocals, usually for one song on an album, including "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Yellow Submarine", "Good Night", and their cover of "Act Naturally". He also wrote the Beatles' songs "Don't Pass Me By" and "Octopus's Garden", and is credited as a co-writer of others, including "What Goes On" and "Flying".

The Beatles English rock band

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they became regarded as the foremost and most influential music band in history. Rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, the group were integral to pop music's evolution into an art form and to the development of the counterculture of the 1960s. They often incorporated classical elements, older pop forms and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways, and later experimented with several musical styles ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock. As the members continued to draw influences from a variety of cultural sources, their musical and lyrical sophistication grew, and they were seen as an embodiment of the era's sociocultural movements.


White played with other prominent musicians and groups both in the United Kingdom and the United States, including Chuck Berry, Billy Fury, Herman's Hermits and Tom Jones. AllMusic called White "one of the busier drummers in England from the late '50s through the mid-'70s". [2]

Chuck Berry American rock-and-roll guitarist, singer, songwriter

Charles Edward Anderson Berry was an American singer, songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as "Maybellene" (1955), "Roll Over Beethoven" (1956), "Rock and Roll Music" (1957) and "Johnny B. Goode" (1958), Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive. Writing lyrics that focused on teen life and consumerism, and developing a music style that included guitar solos and showmanship, Berry was a major influence on subsequent rock music.

Billy Fury English musician

Ronald Wycherley, better known by his stage name Billy Fury, was an English singer from the late 1950s to the mid 1960s, and remained an active songwriter until the 1980s. Rheumatic fever, which he first contracted as a child, damaged his heart and ultimately contributed to his death. An early British rock and roll star, he equalled the Beatles' record of 24 hits in the 1960s, and spent 332 weeks on the UK chart, without a chart-topping single or album.

Hermans Hermits band

Herman's Hermits are an English beat rock band, formed in Manchester in 1964.

Early life and early career

Andy White was born in Glasgow on 27 July 1930, the son of a baker. At the age of 12, he started playing drums in a pipe band, and became a professional session musician at the age of 17. In the 1950s and early 1960s, White played drums with a number of swing and traditional jazz groups and musicians. [2] [1] In 1958 he formed a big band jazz outfit and took it to the American Northeast where he backed rockers like Chuck Berry, the Platters and Bill Haley & His Comets.

Glasgow City and council area in Scotland

Glasgow is the most populous city in Scotland, and the third most populous city in the United Kingdom, as of the 2017 estimated city population of 621,020. Historically part of Lanarkshire, the city now forms the Glasgow City council area, one of the 32 council areas of Scotland; the local authority is Glasgow City Council. Glasgow is situated on the River Clyde in the country's West Central Lowlands. Inhabitants of the city are referred to as "Glaswegians" or "Weegies". It is the fourth most visited city in the UK. Glasgow is also known for the Glasgow patter, a distinct dialect of the Scots language that is noted for being difficult to understand by those from outside the city.

Pipe band class of musical ensembles

A pipe band is a musical ensemble consisting of pipers and drummers. The term used by military pipe bands, pipes and drums, is also common.

Session musician profession; musician hired to perform in recording sessions or live performances

Session musicians, studio musicians, or backing musicians are musicians hired to perform in recording sessions or live performances. Session musicians are usually not permanent members of a musical ensemble or band. They work behind the scenes and rarely achieve individual fame in their own right as soloists or bandleaders. However, top session musicians are well known within the music industry, and some have become publicly recognized, such as the Wrecking Crew and Motown's The Funk Brothers.

White said, "We used some big band arrangements and put a back beat to it to fit in with the rock 'n' roll thing. I got the chance to hear rock 'n' roll in the flesh. That was where I got a good idea about what it was supposed to happen, drumwise." [1] In 1960 in London White recorded with Billy Fury on Fury's first album, The Sound of Fury , which is generally regarded as Britain's first rock and roll album. [2]

<i>The Sound of Fury</i> (album) 1960 studio album by Billy Fury

The Sound of Fury was the first album released by Billy Fury in 1960. Described as "the best rock & roll album to come out of England's original beat boom of the late 1950s". Fury was arguably the first British rock 'n roll artist to write his own songs, sometimes under the pseudonym Wilbur Wilberforce.

Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s from musical styles such as gospel, jump blues, jazz, boogie woogie, and rhythm and blues, along with country music. While elements of what was to become rock and roll can be heard in blues records from the 1920s and in country records of the 1930s, the genre did not acquire its name until 1954.

In the early 1960s White lived in Thames Ditton and was married to the British Decca artist Lyn Cornell, who later became a member of the Vernons Girls, the Pearls, and also the Carefrees, who had the biggest selling Beatles novelty single ever with "We Love You Beatles," peaking in the U.S. at No. 39 and staying on the Billboard charts for five weeks. [5] [6]

Thames Ditton village in United Kingdom

Thames Ditton is a suburban village by and on the River Thames, in the Elmbridge borough of Surrey, England. Apart from a large inhabited island in the river, it lies on the southern bank, centred 12.2 miles (19.6 km) southwest of Charing Cross in central London. Thames Ditton is just outside Greater London but within the Greater London Urban Area as defined by the Office for National Statistics. Its clustered village centre and shopping area on a winding High Street is surrounded by housing, schools and sports areas. Its riverside faces the Thames Path and Hampton Court Palace Gardens and golf course in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Its most commercial area is spread throughout its conservation area and contains restaurants, cafés, shops and businesses.

Decca Records US/British record label

Decca Records is a British record label established in 1929 by Edward Lewis. Its U.S. label was established in late 1934 by Lewis, along with American Decca's first president Jack Kapp and later American Decca president Milton Rackmil. In 1937, anticipating Nazi aggression leading to World War II, Lewis sold American Decca and the link between the UK and U.S. Decca labels was broken for several decades. The British label was renowned for its development of recording methods, while the American company developed the concept of cast albums in the musical genre. Both wings are now part of the Universal Music Group, which is owned by Vivendi, a media conglomerate headquartered in Paris, France. The US Decca label was the foundation company that evolved into UMG.

Lyn Cornell, sometimes billed as Lynn Cornell is an English pop and jazz singer. She is best known for her membership of The Vernons Girls, The Carefrees and The Pearls, having had at least one chart hit with each group, and as a solo artist with a Top 30 UK hit to her name.

The Beatles

In September 1962, White received a call from producer Ron Richards asking him to attend a Beatles recording session at the EMI Studios at Abbey Road in London. Richards was record producer George Martin's assistant at the time and had used White in the past. The Beatles had recorded "Love Me Do" twice already: at an EMI audition on 6 June 1962 with Pete Best on drums when he was still a member of the group; and again on 4 September 1962 with Ringo Starr on drums, Starr having replaced Best the previous month. [7]

Ron Richards was a British record producer, manager and promoter, best known for discovering The Hollies.

Abbey Road Studios recording studio in London, England

Abbey Road Studios is a recording studio at 3 Abbey Road, St John's Wood, City of Westminster, London, England. It was established in November 1931 by the Gramophone Company, a predecessor of British music company EMI, which owned it until Universal Music took control of part of EMI in 2013.

George Martin English record producer, arranger, composer, conductor, audio engineer and musician

Sir George Henry Martin, was an English record producer, arranger, composer, conductor, audio engineer, and musician. He was referred to as the "Fifth Beatle" in reference to his extensive involvement on each of the Beatles' original albums. Martin produced 30 number-one hit singles in the United Kingdom and 23 number-one hits in the United States.

Martin had disapproved of Best's drumming and was now also unhappy with newcomer Starr's drumming. [8] On 11 September 1962 Richards, who was in charge of recording that day, wanted the song recorded again, and the Beatles played "Love Me Do" a third time, this time with White replacing Starr on drums and Starr relegated to playing tambourine. [2] [5] "P.S. I Love You" was also recorded during this session with White playing a "lightweight cha-cha-chá beat" [9] on bongos rather than drums [10] [ page needed ] and Starr playing maracas. [11] White says he was paid £5 for the session and 10/- (50p) for bringing his drum kit, [12] [13] and did not earn any royalties from the sale of the records. [5] [14]

The version of "Love Me Do" with Starr playing drums was used on the early British pressings of the single in 1962. The version with White playing drums was used on the first American pressings of the single in 1964, all later releases of the single, on the Beatles' debut British album, Please Please Me , in 1963, and most subsequent albums that included the song. [3] [4] The version with Starr on drums has also been reissued on occasion; it appeared on the Rarities (1980) compilation, which was released in North America, and received worldwide release on the Past Masters compilation in 1988. [3] [15]

A 1992 single included both the Starr and White versions. An easy way to distinguish between the two versions is that White's version features Starr on tambourine; Starr's version does not include a tambourine. [11] The Pete Best version of the song, initially thought to be lost, was released for the first time on Anthology 1 (1995). "P.S. I Love You", with White drumming, was released on the "B" side of the "Love Me Do" single, and on the Please Please Me album. [3]

In a 2012 BBC interview, White claimed that during the 11 September session he also played on a recording of "Please Please Me", and this performance was used on the hit single: "From the drum sound I can tell that I was on it, because it was a vastly different sound to Ringo's drumset at that time. This was before he got the Ludwig kit. Each drummer gets an individual sound, first of all by the way they tune the drums and then by the way they play the drums." [12] [13]

This was the only time White played with the Beatles, but it was enough to get him "into the history books", [2] and the distinction of being one of the so-called "fifth Beatles". [1] White said that on that day in the studio the only members of the Beatles he worked with were Paul McCartney and John Lennon, because they were the songwriters. "They didn't use any written music, and what I had to do was play the routines with them to get an idea what they wanted before we could even start recording." [1]

Other projects

Later, White played on hit records by Herman's Hermits, on Tom Jones's hit song "It's Not Unusual" and on "Shout" by Lulu. [16] He also worked with many other musicians and groups, including Rod Stewart, Anthony Newley, Bert Weedon and the BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra in Glasgow. In the mid-1960s White toured the United States with Marlene Dietrich and performed in her cabaret shows, under the musical direction of the then-unknown composer Burt Bacharach, [2] [4] [1] and, from 1965 until he retired in 1975, the British pianist and composer William Blezard.

White played drums on "P.S. I Love You" again in 2008, this time on a version by a New Jersey-based rock band, the Smithereens. In 2007 the band had recorded Meet the Smithereens! , a tribute to the Beatles, covering their entire Meet the Beatles! album. After Beatles expert Tom Frangione [1] introduced White to the band, they asked White to record with them on their next Beatles tribute album at their House of Vibes recording studio in Highland Park. White's drumming on "P.S. I Love You" was released late in 2008 on B-Sides the Beatles, an album of Beatles B-side covers from 1962 to 1965. [17] White also played drums with the Smithereens in May 2008 at a We Get By with a Little Help From Our Friends charity health-care fundraiser at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn. [1]

In the late 1980s White moved to United States and lived in Caldwell, New Jersey, where he taught Scottish pipe band drumming. [18] He was also a judge for the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association (EUSPBA), and drum instructor for the New York City Department of Corrections Emerald Pipe Band. He was married to Thea White, a librarian who supplied the voice of Muriel on the Cartoon Network show Courage the Cowardly Dog . White had a bumper sticker on his car that reads "5THBEATLE". He said that "One of my students gave that to me." [1]


White died after a stroke in Caldwell, New Jersey on 9 November 2015 at the age of 85. [16] [19]

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