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Former Beatles 'Love Me Do' drummer dies at 85

By Shawn Price
Former Beatles 'Love Me Do' drummer dies at 85
Andy White, the former studio drummer who was hired to play drums on the U.S. version of the Beatles' first hit "Love Me Do," died Monday. He was 85. File photo by UPI

NEW YORK, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Andy White, the drummer hired to play on the Beatles' "Love Me Do" died this week, his wife said. He was 85.

The studio drummer for various artists in the 1960s died Monday after having a stroke last week, his wife, Thea White, said.

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White is often considered one of the "Fifth Beatles," a group of musicians that includes Pete Best, Stuart Sutcliffe, Jimmy Nicol, Billy Preston and others who contributed to the group.

"He was an enormously talented drummer, a true gentleman, a humble and gentle man and the best husband any woman could ever hope to have," Thea White wrote in an email to Entertainment Weekly. "By the way, all these lavish words of praise are not from [me], but from the mouths of others who knew and respected him. Of course, I agree with all of it!"

White was born in Glagow in 1930 and became a successful working musician in the 1960s for Tom Jones on hits like "It's Not Unusual," as well as for Herman's Hermits. He worked for the EMI label as a studio drummer, playing whatever recording session producers needed, as well as touring with Marlene Dietrich and Burt Bacharach for cabaret shows. He was also a consultant on the 2012 film Not Fade Away.

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But White's claim to fame was as the studio drummer hired to play with the Beatles on the U.S. version of the band's first single, "Love Me Do." White was brought in by producer George Martin to play after the group fired previous drummer Pete Best, but before Martin was sold on Ringo Starr. On the British version of the song, Starr plays drums, but the U.S. version features White on drums and Starr on tambourine.

The song shot to No. 1 and launched the Beatles' legendary career. As is typical practice, White was paid for his time, but given no royalties.

White married and moved to New Jersey where he taught music and judged Scottish-style pipe and drum band events along the East Coast. He was reportedly "incredibly humble" about his early success.

"God was good to us. He gave us 42 wonderful years together," Thea White, voice of Muriel in the former Cartoon Network series Courage the Cowardly Dog, told CNN.

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