Published Nov 11, 2015Andy White, known for being the drummer on some of the Beatles' earliest recordings and sometimes referred to as a "fifth Beatle," has passed away. He was 85 and died Monday (November 9) following a stroke a few days earlier.
White was hired in 1962 to record the single "Love Me Do" and its B-side "P.S. I Love You." Producer George Martin reportedly hired White to replace Pete Best, and even though Ringo Starr was in the group by that point, the producer opted to have White play drums while Starr was relegated to background percussion.
The initial British pressing of "Love Me Do" used a version with Starr drumming, but most subsequent releases featured White. The version with White can be identified because it contains tambourine; hear it below.
There have also been reports suggesting that White played on a version of the Beatles' song "Please Please Me," although the documentation isn't clear. In a 2012 interview with the BBC, however, White said he played drums on the recording. White also said he was often called to Abbey Road studios for work in the '60s.
Beyond that, White was an established session musician. He played on Tom Jones' 1965 hit "It's Not Unusual" and collaborated with stars like Rod Stewart, Chuck Berry, Burt Bacharach and Herman's Hermits.
White hailed from Glasgow, and he married American resident Thea Ruth in 1983 and moved to Caldwell, NJ. He then began to give drum lessons and, later in life, played on a cover of "P.S. I Love You" by fellow New Jersey residents the Smithereens. He also was asked to teach drums to musician-turned-actor Steven Van Zandt for his role in The Sopranos.