Andy White, the studio drummer who recorded “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You” with The Beatles, has died at the age of 85 as a result of a stroke, according to the BBC. The drummer lived with his wife in New Jersey.
It is also believed that White played drums for the version of “Please Please Me” that appeared on the album of the same name.
These accolades have resulted in White being seen as included in a select group of people who can rightfully bear the “Fifth Beatle” title. Others include Stuart Sutcliffe, Brian Epstein, and Pete Best.
White was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1930.
All Music described Andy White as being one the “busiest drummers in England” from the 1950s to the 1970s. Besides working with the Beatles, White played drums with Billy Fury, Marlene Dietrich, Hermin’s Hermits, Burt Bacharach, Rod Stewart, and the BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra. The drummer was said to be regularly called to the EMI studios during the 1960s.
“I would get a call from EMI and you never knew what you were going to be asked to do,” White was quoted. He was said to have been paid £5, with no royalties, for his performances with The Beatles.
It was Ron Richards, reportedly instructed by Beatles producer George Martin, who called White and asked him to come sit in for Ringo Star. When Pete Best was replaced by Ringo Starr, in the summer of 1962, Martin was said to be unsure of Ringo’s abilities. White was called in to make sure the recording sessions went smoothly and calm Martin’s fears. Reportedly, Starr plays the tambourine on the singles, while White plays the drums.
In the United States, White served as the drumming adjudicator for the New York Metro Pipe Band and worked as a drumming instructor. The pipe band referred to White as an “all around Gentleman” in a Facebook post.
RIP Drumming Adjudicator, Session Drummer who played with the Beatles and all round Gentleman Andy White who passed away…
Andy White was married to voice actress Thea Ruth. His family was said to pay tribute to his “amazing humility and humbleness about his many achievements.”
White stated in a 2012 Daily Record article that after he first met Paul McCartney and John Lennon in 1962, he “knew they were on to something special.” The drummer admitted to not having heard much about The Beatles before being called to sit in for Ringo.
“I had heard of The Beatles by then because my first wife Lynne was from Liverpool and had mentioned the name, but I didn’t know much about them,” White stated.
White remembered that the group hadn’t written any of their material down, but that working with McCartney and Lennon to learn the songs was “great.” He spoke about how other popular music at the time mostly seemed to copy music from the United States and that he felt that The Beatles had really found a new sound. White also remembered not having “much between” Ringo Starr and himself, and that because McCartney and Lennon were the writers, most of his time with The Beatles was spent working with them.
Before the Beatles sessions, White had already made a name for himself and toured the United States with The Vic Lewis Band, which he joined when he was 21. Marlene Dietrich reportedly fell and broke her leg while touring in Australia, bringing White’s days of endless touring to an end in 1975.
He then spent four years in Glasgow playing with the BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra before he met his wife Thea and settled with her New Jersey.
[Feature Screenshot via Salted Print/YouTube]