Born September 20, 1954, to an English father and a French mother in Luton, a town north of London, England, White and his family moved soon after his birth to nearby Letchworth. His brother Danny was born a few years later. As a child, White loved sports, hiking, and tree climbing, but music was most special to him. His father encouraged him to learn many musical instruments -- recorder, clarinet, cornet, trombone, violin, harmonica, piano -- but the one instrument his dad couldn't help him with was the guitar; White was on his own. He learned to play simple chords by experimenting and listening with one ear glued to the radio. Like a lot of musicians, White was heavily influenced by the Beatles and the guitar-driven sound of the beat groups of the '60s. Around age 12, White would go over to schoolmate David Visick's house and listen to his large record collection. His favorites were Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Cream, and Jimi Hendrix. In his early teens, he acquired his first electric guitar and amplifier, which survived just long enough to be burned in a fire. Forced to go acoustic, White developed a love of acoustic music. After leaving school at 18, White worked for a few months in a soup-canning factory before getting his first musical break, a summer engagement at a South of England holiday resort. When summer ended, he went back to Letchworth, having whet his appetite for more musical adventures. Traveling to London, the guitarist ended up joining a group that was managed by Miles Copeland (Sting, R.E.M., IRS Records). Copeland also managed Al Stewart, so when Stewart's backup band disbanded, White got an audition call to back Stewart on keyboards. Brushing up on his finger dexterity, White learned a few of Stewart's songs, and soon the 20-year-old musician was touring England and the U.S. In the summer of 1975, Stewart asked White to play keyboards and acoustic guitar on his Year of the Cat album (Arista, 1976). Their collaboration lasted almost 20 years, with White co-writing "Time Passages" (number seven pop, number one adult contemporary, fall 1978) and co-producing Famous Last Words (Mesa/Rhino, 1993). Around 1979, White moved to Los Angeles, where Stewart had relocated, formed a band called Shot in the Dark with other musicians who had played with Stewart, and established a music publishing company called Lobster Music. Meanwhile his brother Danny formed the group Matt Bianco, which included singer Basia Trzetrzelewska. Danny White and Basia eventually left the group to launch the singer's solo career. Danny asked Peter to tour with him and Basia in 1990, just as the guitarist released his first solo album, Reveillez-Vous (Chase). Made up mostly of unused songs that White had written for Al Stewart, the album became a DJ favorite at jazz and emerging smooth jazz radio stations. Epic exec Cliff Gorov was the man who first brought White's music to the attention of contemporary jazz radio. Former Al Stewart drummer Steve Chapman put down his sticks and became the guitarist's manager. White followed his debut with three albums for the Sin-Drome label, including 1993's Promenade and 1994's Reflections; the latter-of-which cracked the top twenty of the Billboard Jazz Albums chart. Around the same time, he contributed to albums by Richard Elliot, Warren Hill, Craig Chaquico, Rick Braun, Marc Antoine, Kirk Whalum, and Everette Harp.
In 1995, White signed with Columbia/Sony and returned the following year with Caravan of Dreams (which hit number four on the Billboard Jazz chart). A string of successful albums followed for the label with 1997's Songs of the Season and 1998's Perfect Moment (which peaked at number three on the jazz charts). In 2001, White again landed near the top of the jazz charts with Glow. The equally well-received Confidential followed in 2004. White then decided to revisit some of his favorite songs from the '60s, '70s, and '80s in his 2006 release Playin' Favourites. The low-key Good Day followed in 2009.
Here We Go arrived in 2012 and featured guest appearances by such artists as David Sanborn, Andrew Neu, and Kirk Whalum. In 2014, White released his 14th studio album, the all-original Smile. 2016's Groovin', his 15th album as a bandleader, featuring reworkings of a number of classic songs from the '60s and '70s. Music for Starlux Airlines arrived in 2019 and featured songs White initially recorded for use by the luxury airline based in Taiwan. Included on the album was the song "Homeward Bound," which featured his daughter Charlotte White on violin. ~ Ed Hogan, Rovi