Andy White, Beatles’ ‘Love Me Do’ Drummer, Dead at 85
Andy White, the Scotland-born session musician who played drums on the Beatles‘ debut single “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You,” passed away Monday in New Jersey after suffering a massive stroke. He was 85. White’s family confirmed his death to the BBC, adding that White would be remembered for his “amazing humility and humbleness about his many achievements.”
White made his mark on music history by serving as drummer on the Beatles’ first single. “Love Me Do” was initially recorded during the group’s EMI audition in June 1962 with Pete Best on drums. Three months later, after the Beatles signed their contract, new drummer Ringo Starr performed on the song during a September 4th, 1962 session, but producer George Martin was unhappy with the results. A veteran session drummer, White was then called in to play drums during the September 11th session at EMI Studios at Abbey Road.
White was paid £5 for the three-hour session and received no royalties for performing on the band’s legendary first single. The White versions also appeared on the Beatles’ debut LP Please Please Me. Starr still featured on both songs, however, playing tambourine on “Love Me Do” and maracas on “P.S. I Love You.”
According to the BBC, White also insisted that he appear on the Beatles’ “Please Please Me,” although Starr is credited as drummer on the track. Regardless, White’s brief stint with the Fab Four cemented his legacy as one of the “Fifth Beatles,” a club that includes Stuart Sutcliffe, Pete Best and Jimmie Nicol.
In addition to his work with the Beatles, White also appeared on Tom Jones’ 1965 hit “It’s Not Unusual” as well as tracks by Rod Stewart, Chuck Berry, Herman’s Hermits and Lulu. Later in life, White settled in America with his wife, voice actor Thea White, and became a drumming instructor, with the E Street Band’s Steven Van Zandt among his pupils.