'Fifth Beatle' lived on edges of fame

NEW YORK •Andy White, a session musician who played drums on the first Beatles hit but spent his life on the edges of fame, has died, colleagues said on Wednesday. He was 85.

The Glasgow native, who had lived for years in the United States where he taught Scottish-style pipes and drums, died this week in his adopted home of New Jersey, the New York Metro Pipe Band said on Facebook.

White performed on only one single of The Beatles - the US version of Love Me Do - but it was enough to make him a mythic "Fifth Beatle" in the lore of the Fab Four. He had been based in London in the early 1960s, but was familiar with the American scene, having crossed the Atlantic to back big names such as Chuck Berry and Bill Haley & The Comets.

As White recalled later, producer Ron Richards called him in 1962 and simply offered a three-hour session job for label EMI.

"That's all I knew about it. 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," he told Britain's Daily Record in a 2012 interview. But he said he was impressed by The Beatles, calling them a rare British act at the time that was not just producing "a copy of music from the States".

"You could tell it was something different and very special. But I didn't know just how special it would become," he said.

White also played on the B-side to the single, P.S. I Love You. But Ringo Starr quickly assumed full-time drumming duties and performed on the British version of Love Me Do.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2015, with the headline ''Fifth Beatle' lived on edges of fame '. Print Edition | Subscribe