Lenny White

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Lenny White
White and Stanley Clarke, 1976
White and Stanley Clarke, 1976
Background information
Birth nameLeonard White III
Born (1949-12-19) December 19, 1949 (age 71)
New York City, U.S.
GenresJazz fusion, funk
Occupation(s)Musician, Bandleader, Producer, Professor
Years active1968–present
LabelsNemperor, Elektra, Wounded Bird
Associated actsReturn to Forever, Twennynine, Azteca, Jamaica Boys

Leonard "Lenny" White III (born December 19, 1949) is an American jazz fusion drummer who was a member of the band Return to Forever led by Chick Corea in the 1970s. White has been called "one of the founding fathers of jazz fusion".[1][2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Queens, New York City, White became interested in music at a young age. As a self taught drummer he started off his career playing with groups at the New York jazz scene. While he was living at home, his father would take him to gigs. Early on he played clubs in Queens New York such as the Aphrodisiac, Slugs, and The Gold Lounge. It was at The Gold Lounge where he had his first gig with saxophonist Jackie McLean.[4] During the late 1960s he began performing with Mclean around Queens. Through this, White was recommended to play on Miles Davis' landmark 1969 LP Bitches Brew and feature on Freddie Hubbard's 1970 LP Red Clay. Within 1972 White joined the jazz group Return to Forever.


In 1977 White released his debut solo album entitled Big City. During 1978 he released his sophomore LP The Adventures of Astral Pirates and his third solo album Streamline. He eventually formed the jazz/soul group Twennynine who went on to issue three studio albums, 1979's Best of Friends, Twennynine with Lenny White in 1980, and 1981's Just Like Dreamin'.[1][2]

White then made a guest appearance on Chick Corea's 1982 album Touchstone and produced Chaka Khan's 1982 LP Echoes of an Era. He later released his 1983 album Attitude and co-produced Pieces of a Dream's 1986 LP Joyride.[1][2] White now teaches at NYU Steinhardt where he has an ensemble as well as a lecture class on Bitches Brew called “The Miles Davis Aesthetic.”[4][5]

Personal life[edit]

White has been a longtime resident of Teaneck, New Jersey.[3] He endorses Vic Firth drum sticks and only plays his own signature epoch cymbals sponsored by Istanbul Agop.[6]

Awards and honors[edit]

Grammy Awards

White has been nominated for five Grammy Awards, of which he has won three. The Grammy Award is an award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievement in the mainly English-language music industry.[7]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
1975 No Mystery Best Jazz Performance by a group Won
2010 The Stanley Clarke Band Best Contemporary Jazz Album Won
2011 Forever Best Jazz Instrumental Album Won


Lenny White with Buster Williams at Oslo Jazzfestival 2016

As leader/co-leader[edit]

As Return to Forever[edit]

With Chick Corea, Bill Connors and Stanley Clarke

With Chick Corea, Al Di Meola and Stanley Clarke

As Corea, Clarke & White

With Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Jean-Luc Ponty, Frank Gambale

As producer[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Azteca

  • Azteca (Columbia, 1972)
  • Pyramid of the Moon (Columbia, 1973)
  • From The Ruins (Inakustic Gmbh, 2008)

With Cyrus Chestnut

With Stanley Clarke

With Al Di Meola:

With Larry Coryell & Victor Bailey

  • Electric (Chesky, 2005)
  • Traffic (Chesky, 2006)

With Chaka Khan, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Chick Corea & Stanley Clarke

  • Echoes of an Era (Elektra, 1982)
  • Echoes of an Era 2 – The Concert (Elektra, 1982)

With Marcus Miller and Michel Petrucciani

With Wallace Roney

With Buster Williams

With others


  1. ^ a b c "All About Jazz: Lenny White biography". allaboutjazz.com. All About Jazz.
  2. ^ a b c Yanow, Scott. "Lenny White". allmusic.com. Allmusic.
  3. ^ a b Kara Yorio (December 19, 2013). "Teaneck's Lenny White to play four nights at Jazz Standard". The Record. Archived from the original on January 14, 2015. Retrieved March 12, 2016. White, a two-time Grammy winner, is one of the founding fathers of jazz fusion. His first recording gig was with Miles Davis on the groundbreaking "Bitches Brew" album that was released in 1970.
  4. ^ a b "Fusion Star Lenny White". Modern Drummer Magazine. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  5. ^ "Lenny White". NYU Steinhardt. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  6. ^ "A Bridge To The Future: A Conversation with Lenny White". New York Jazz Workshop. July 16, 2018. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  7. ^ O'Neill, Thomas (1999). The Grammys: The Ultimate Unofficial Guide to Music's Highest Honor. Perigee Trade.

External links[edit]