November 7, 2017 – Pentti “Whitey” Glan was born on July 8, 1946 in Finland , just after World War II had come to an end and tensions with Russia were high. The family moved to Toronto Canada soon after.
Whitey Glan’s first serious band was the Canadian soul band The Rogues (later called Mandala) which he formed with keyboardist Josef Chirowski and bassist Don Elliot; they had worked together in other teenage bands like Whitey & The Roulettes. Mandala had their first hit single with “Opportunity” with original singer George Oliver, recorded at Chess Records.
In 1966 Glan played several shows with Mandala in Ontario and recorded the first two demo songs of his career (“I Can’t Hold Out No Longer” and “I’ll Make It Up To You”). Roy Kenner had replaced George Oliver. When they played their first shows in the USA they performed at the Whiskey A Go Go. They recorded their only album Soul Crusade in 1968 which produced a hit single (“Loveitis”) but they disbanded in 1969 after several line-up changes and poor album sales.
Glan formed another group called Bush in 1971 with Mandala bandmates Italian born lead guitarists Domenic Troiano, Roy Kenner and Prakash John. They released a self-titled album and toured with Steppenwolf, after which they disbanded. Troiano became lead player for The Guess Who and the James Gang.
Glan became a session drummer, playing on the first and second solo albums of Steppenwolf’s front man John Kay. In 1974, Glan began touring with Lou Reed, playing on two live albums and one studio album (Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal, Sally Can’t Dance and Lou Reed Live.) He worked with Anne Murray on her album Highly Prized Possession before moving to California
In 1975 Glan joined Alice Cooper for the recording of his first solo album Welcome To My Nightmare and subsequent tour, and later appeared on the live album The Alice Cooper Show. All in all Glan toured with Alice Cooper from 1975 to 1979 during the Madhouse Tour, supporting Cooper’s From the Inside album.
“I picked Whitey Glan as the drummer for my Welcome To My Nightmare Tour because he was simply the best drummer around, not knowing he could drink me under a table,” Alice Cooper wrote on his Facebook page. “He was just a great guy, everybody who’s worked with him considered him one of their best friends. He was one of rocks premier drummers, but in my opinion he was very under rated and under publicized.”
In 1979 he appeared in the movie The Rose as the drummer of The Rose Band working with Bette Midler on the sound track.
The late, great American jazz drummer Buddy Rich once in the 1970s sang his praises when show host Johnny Carson The Tonight Show asked if there were any drummers he’d have his eyes on, the answer was:’There’s this kid from Canada, Whitey Glan, and he’s pretty amazing.” As large as his legacy was, his friend Munro said Glan was humble. “He was not just a great drummer, he was a great human being,” Munro said. But “he wanted a quiet life.”
“He was the stuff of legend,” Barrie Jazz and Blues Festival organizer Robin Munro said about his friend, drummer Pentti “Whitey” Glan. “He was a major influence on me as a drummer, going back to the ’60s and ’70s, but over the past four years he’s been part of my group in Barrie playing jazz,” Munro said. “We became good pals.”
“We’d go to do a song like Moondance (Van Morrison) and he’d look up and me and said ‘I played on that,’” Munro said. “He played on hundreds, maybe thousands of records, when he lived in Los Angeles as a session musicianand also played in the Canadian Rock Theatre.
Glan was an extraordinary musician, who had high expectations for himself and those around him, Munro added.
In the 1990s after he had returned to his Canadian roots Whitey mostly played with Canada’s excellent blues band the Danny B. Blues Band and later with Luke and the Apostles and others. More recently he put the Whitey and the Roulettes back together and played gigs in the local areas until he suffered a bout with pneumonia in August of 2017, which led him to be diagnosed with lung cancer. He died from the dreadful disease on November 7, 2017 at the age of 71.