Leonard White III is best known for playing in Chick Corea's Return to Forever and being one of the forerunners of jazz-rock/funk.
White was born in New York City. A self-taught, left- handed drummer on a right-handed kit, he began his career in local groups, and playing regularly with Jackie McLean in the late 1960s. In 1969, he first appeared on Miles Davis' historic recording on Bitches' Brew and later in 1970 he played with Freddie Hubbard on Red Clay before joining Corea's Return to Forever and Azteca in 1972. A year after, Azteca dissolved and he became dedicated to RTF. For five years, he recorded a number of albums with Return to Forever including the award winning No Mystery and Romantic Warrior. When the group split up in 1977 White signed with the Nemperor label (via Atlantic) and recorded two albums as leader.
In 1978, he switched to Elektra for his album Best of Friends, before forming the group Twennynine in 1979, with Carlo Vaughn (vocals), Jocelyn Smith (vocals), Skip Anderson (keyboards), Barry Johnson (bass), and Eddy Martinez (guitar). He later became one of the Jamaica Boys, a group also including Marcus Miller (bass) and Dinky Bingham (vocals), and worked with all-star groups Echoes of an Era and Griffith Park.
White has played with many of the greatest jazz musicians, including Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Gato Barbieri, Gil Evans, and Stan Getz.