Andy White was one of the busier drummers in England from the late '50s through the mid-'70s, playing with bands backing everyone from Billy Fury to Marlene Dietrich. It was a single gig, however, on September 11, 1962, that made White one of the most famous session drummers in rock & roll history. Engaged by EMI's Parlophone Records to stand by at the second recording session by the newly signed Beatles, White ended up playing drums on one finished recording of their debut single, "Love Me Do," and its B-side, "P.S. I Love You."
White was born the son of a baker in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1930. He took up drumming in a bagpipe band when he was 12 years old, and by 17 he was ready to turn professional. He spent most of the '50s playing swing and trad jazz across the British isles. Among his more notable rock & roll gigs were the 1960 sessions where Billy Fury recorded his Sound of Fury album, which is usually thought of as the first great British rock & roll album.
Sandwiched in between his various concert engagements and recording sessions for the likes of Anthony Newley et al., he was called by Ron Richards (deputizing for his boss, George Martin) to come in for the Beatles' second recording session -- a week earlier, the group had cut a version of "Love Me Do" with their newly recruited drummer, Ringo Starr, playing the drums, but the label wasn't entirely happy with it. At the September 11th session, White played the drums while Starr played the tambourine on "Love Me Do," and on "P.S. I Love You" (with Ringo on the maracas). (There was also an early, slow version of "Please Please Me" done that day, which was never released). Both recordings of "Love Me Do," with Starr and White playing drums, were subsequently issued at various times, and are extant on different CD releases.
The Beatles session was enough to get White into the history books, although he subsequently played on hit records by Herman's Hermits and Tom Jones, among many others, and toured with Marlene Dietrich, as well as playing with symphony orchestras. By the '90s, White had moved to America and lived in New Jersey, teaching a new generation of would-be drummers in the art of Scottish pipe band percussion.