Ben Blackwell

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Ben Blackwell
Birth name Benjamin Jesse Blackwell
Born (1982-06-12) June 12, 1982 (age 32)
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Origin Detroit
Genres Garage rock, rock and roll
Occupations drummer, writer, archivist
Years active 1999–present
Labels Cass Records, Third Man Records
Associated acts the Dirtbombs, The White Stripes

Ben Blackwell (Born Benjamin Jesse Blackwell on June 12, 1982) is the creator and director of Cass Records, one of two drummers in the Detroit-based rock band the Dirtbombs, an accomplished writer and an employee of Jack White of the White Stripes at Third Man Records.

The Dirtbombs[edit]

Blackwell debuted live with the Dirtbombs on December 18, 1999[1] when he was only 17-years-old. He has since become one of the longest-serving members of the band, having played on four studio albums and having toured extensively all over the world.

Involvement with the White Stripes[edit]

From the beginning of the Stripes' existence Blackwell worked as the band's roadie and wrote much of the group's website content. Although he is citizen archivist rather than an accredited professional archivist he is referred to as the "White Stripes' official archivist".[2] He wrote the liner notes to Under Blackpool Lights. He also appears in the White Stripes' feature-length documentary Under Great White Northern Lights laying behind Jack and Meg and conducting the interview that is interlaced throughout the film.

Cass Records[edit]

Started in 2003 with money given to him from his mother, Blackwell has put out over 50 releases on his Cass Records imprint.[3] Through his label he has released records from such artists as The Mooney Suzuki, Blanche, The Waxwings, The Trachtenburg Family Slide Show Players, The Sights, The Muldoons, Kelley Stoltz, Dan Sartain, Turbo Fruits, Cheap Time, The Go, the Black Lips and many others.

In 2007, Blackwell was selected by Crain's Detroit Business magazine as one of their "Twenty in Their 20s", a yearly designation given to twenty emerging entrepreneurs in southeastern Michigan. Blackwell was selected for his work with his Cass Records label and was recognized for his commitment to the 7-inch vinyl format.[4]



Blackwell has written content for many magazines including Creem Magazine Online,[5] Careless Talk Costs Lives, the Metro Times, Chunklet Magazine, Ugly Things, Arthur, Plan B and others.


Blackwell has also contributed work to the following books:

  • The Art of the Band T-Shirt by Amber Easby[7]
  • The Stooges: The Authorized and Illustrated Story by Robert Matheu[8]

Other Writing Accomplishments[edit]

Blackwell won Rolling Stone magazine's 2004 college journalism award in the field of entertainment for two tour diaries he wrote for Wayne State University's The South End paper in March 2003.[9]

In November 2006 Blackwell started his own blog titled Tremble Under Boom Lights named after an EP by the band Jonathan Fire*Eater.

Blackwell's poem The World's Most Important Swimmers was selected by members of the Guerilla Poetics Project to be printed as a letterpressed broadside for the November 2008 installment of their program.[10]

Solo Recording[edit]

In November 2010, Blackwell self-released his debut solo album "I Remember When All This Was Trees" on his Cass Records imprint. Blackwell wrote, recorded and performed all the music on the album.

In March 2011 Blackwell participated in Esquire magazine's annual songwriting challenge along with Dierks Bentley, Dhani Harrison, Raphael Saadiq and Brendan Benson.[11] Each performer was asked to write a song using the lyric "Last night in Detroit" and Blackwell's song "Bury My Body at Elmwood" is based around Elmwood Cemetery on the east side of Detroit.[12]


Since 2007 Blackwell has been a frequent contributor to Bagazine,[13] a Mail Art "magazine in a bag" that focuses on "assemblage, handwork and print making, photography, painting, chapbooks, graphic design, typography, letterpress, Visual Poetry and the unusual."[14]

In March 2010 an anonymous guerilla stickering campaign was started in Detroit asking "Where is Ben Blackwell?" Bumper stickers with this message can still be found in the Midtown neighborhood.

On March 1, 2014, Blackwell gave a lecture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston titled "A Contemporary Record of Rock 'n' Roll" covering topics ranging from vinyl records, archiving, musical archeology and his personal experiences relating to them.[15]

Currently Blackwell oversees vinyl record production at Jack White's Third Man Records in Nashville, Tennessee where his official job title is "Pinball Wizard."[16]

Blackwell is a dropout of Wayne State University.

Discography with the Dirtbombs[edit]


Year Title Label Notes
2001 Ultraglide in Black In The Red Records
2003 Dangerous Magical Noise In The Red Records
2008 We Have You Surrounded In The Red Records
2011 Party Store In The Red Records


Year Title Label Notes
2005 If You Don’t Already Have a Look In The Red Records
2013 Consistency is the Enemy Cass Records

7" singles[edit]

  • Headlights On 7" (Solid Sex Lovie Doll Records, 2000)
  • Brucia I Cavi 7" (Hate Records, 2000)
  • Ode To A Black Man 7" (Sweet Nothing, 2001)
  • Australian Sing A Long With The Dirtbomb Singers 7" (Zerox Records, 2002)
  • Pray For Pills 7" (Corduroy Records, 2002)
  • Motor City Baby 7" (Sweet Nothing, 2003)
  • Earthquake Heart 7" (Velvet Tiger, 2004)
  • Merit 7" (Kapow Records, 2004)
  • Crashdown Day 7" (Corduroy Records, 2004)
  • Tanzen Gehn' 7" (Soundflat Records, 2005)
  • Brand New Game 7" (Munster Records, 2005)
  • Oh Katrina 7" (Noiseless/Live From Detroit, 2007)
  • Rocket USA 7" (Infirmary Phonographic, 2008)
  • Need You Tonight 7" (Stained Circles, 2008)
  • The Dirtbombs... Play Sparks 7" (In The Red Records, 2008)
  • Race to the Bottom 12" (Cass Records, 2009)
  • Kick Me 7" (Cass Records, 2010)

Dirtbombs Split Recordings with Other Artists[edit]

Additional Discography[edit]

Artist Year Title Label Notes
Mike Quatro 1995 "The Ocean Song" Quatrophonic Music USA uncredited group vocal
Clone Defects 1999 "Bottled Woman" Tom Perkins Records uncredited reverb crash
Lost Kids 2001 "Explode" & "Whirling Dervish" Gold Standard Laboratories drums
The Mistreaters 2003 "Ol' Sugarfoot" Estrus guitar feedback
Detroit City Council 2003 "Mary's Lil Lamb" Acid Jazz drums
The Come-Ons 2005 "Promise Me" Unrecording Records guitar solo
Dan Sartain 2008 "Voodoo" Cass Records drums
Ben Blackwell 2010 I Remember When All This Was Trees (album) Cass Records all vocals and instrumentation
Ben Blackwell 2011 "Bury My Body at Elmwood" Cass Records all vocals and instrumentation
Jack White 2011 "Love is Blindness" Third Man Records drums[17]
Jack White 2013 "Alone in My Home" & "Entitlement" Third Man Records drums


  1. ^ Dirtbombs Family Tree
  2. ^ Michaels, Sean. "Jack White secretly donated funds for Detroit baseball pitch". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  3. ^
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  6. ^ E. True, The White Stripes and the Sound of Mutant Blues (Omnibus Press, 2004), preface
  7. ^ A. Easby "The Art of the Band T-Shirt" (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2007) p.227,
  8. ^ R. Matheu "The Stooges: The Authorized and Illustrated Story" (Abrams, 2009) p.55
  9. ^ Rolling Stone magazine November 11th, 2004
  10. ^
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