White Stripes

  • Rock duo formed in 1997, from Detroit Michigan. The musical team is Jack White (originally Jack Gillis) and his wife Meg White. Gillis took his wife’s last name when they were married. Jack is songwriter, vocalist, guitarist, pianist, and mandolin-player. Meg is the drummer and vocalist.
  • The couple met at the Memphis Smoke restaurant, where Meg worked and Jack would read his poetry at open mic nights. Jack was already playing drums with musician friends. In 1994, Jack got his first professional job as a drummer in the country punk band Goober & the Peas. Soon after Meg and Jack married in 1996, Goober & the Peas broke up. Jack moved to several other bands. In 1997, Meg began to play the drums, and Jack suggested they form a band together.
  • Their initial name was Bazooka, and then Soda Powder. Finally, they settled on White Stripes, playing off their last name, and Meg’s love of peppermint.  Their first live performance was in August 1997 at the Gold Dollar bar in Detroit.
  • In 1998, a Detroit based independent label offered to pay for a single to be released by the band. The debut single, Let’s Shake Hands, was released on vinyl with an initial pressing of 1,000 copies. Later that year, they cut another vinyl single, Lafayette Blues, again with only 1,000 copies released.
  • In 1999, they signed with another independent label and released their first album, the self titled The White Stripes. The album is a unique blend of blues/punk/country/metal. The following year, they released De Stijl (Dutch for “The Style”).  These albums were well received by critics, but they did not chart.
  • Their next 4 studio albums increased their visibility in the alternative rock genre, and each peaked at progressively higher positions on the Billboard 200 chart. White Blood Cells, with its stripped down garage rock sound, was released in 2001, reached #61, and 2 singles reached top 20 on the Alternative Songs chart – Fell In Love with a Girl and Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground. Elephant was released in 2003 – it peaked at #6, and the single Seven Nation Army gave them their first #1 on the Alt Song chart. The album won a Grammy award, and the single won the Grammy for Best Rock Song. Rolling Stone ranks the album #390 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
  • This was followed by Get Behind Me Satan (peaking at #3). This album won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album, and Rolling Stone ranked it the third best album of 2005. Their final studio album, Icky Thump in 2007, hit #2. The single Icky Thump, also hit #1 on the Alternative Songs chart. This album also won a Grammy – 3 in a row for the group.
  • By late summer of 2007, the group played their last concert. Remaining dates that year were cancelled, due to Meg’s acute anxiety. There was talk of new music, but ultimately, the band announced that they had ceased performing and recording in 2011.
  • They certainly had a unique aura about them.  Their public persona always featured the colors red, white and black. They claimed for years to be brother and sister, denying that they were husband and wife. By 2001, there was public proof that they were married in 1996, and had divorced in 2000. Even so, they still insisted that they were a brother-sister combo. Their live shows featured heavy distortion and audio feedback, and they never prepared set lists for their shows, wanting to maintain spontaneity. They recorded and toured using antiquated equipment from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Definitely an “indie” band with a sound all their own.
  • Not familiar with The White Stripes? Listen to their hit Seven Nation Army and get to know them.

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