Jack White

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Jack White
Jack White performs "Mother Nature's Son" in the East Room as part of a concert honoring Paul McCartney with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, June 2, 2010.
Jack White in 2010.
Background information
Birth name John Anthony Gillis
Born (1975-07-09) July 9, 1975 (age 39)[1]
Detroit, Michigan, US
Genres Rock, alternative rock, garage rock, blues rock, folk rock, blues, punk blues, country
Occupation(s) Musician, producer, actor
Instruments Vocals, guitar, drums, keyboards, mandolin, bass guitar, marimba
Years active 1990–present
Labels Warner Bros., V2, Third Man, Sub Pop, Sympathy for the Record Industry, XL, Italy, Columbia
Associated acts The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, The Upholsterers, The Go
Notable instruments
1965 JB Hutto Montgomery Airline
1970s-era Crestwood Astral II
Gretsch Penguin
1950s-era Kay Hollowbody
Custom Gretsch Triple Jet
Custom Gretsch Jupiter Thunderbird
Custom Gretsch Anniversary Jr. "Green Machine"
Ludwig Drums
Fender Highway One Telecaster

Jack White (born John Anthony Gillis on July 9, 1975)[2] is an American musician, producer, and occasional actor. He is most well known as the frontman of the band The White Stripes, though he has been in several bands and collaborated with various artists. On April 24, 2012, White released his debut solo album, Blunderbuss, which received wide critical acclaim. His second studio album, Lazaretto, was released on June 10, 2014.

After playing the drums for years and moonlighting in several bands, White founded The White Stripes with fellow Detroit native, Meg White, in 1997. After a 2001 gig in London, they rose to fame in the UK—a fame that soon spread internationally. This recognition provided White opportunities to collaborate with famous artists, including Loretta Lynn and—his idol—Bob Dylan.[3] In 2006, White became a founding member of the rock band the Raconteurs, and in 2009 he helped form and played drums for his third commercially successful group, the Dead Weather.[4]

White has enjoyed both critical and popular success, and is widely credited as one of the key artists in the garage rock revival of the 2000s. He has won eight Grammy Awards, and both of his solo albums have reached number one on the Billboard charts. Rolling Stone ranked him number 70 on its 2010 list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". David Fricke's 2011 list ranked him at number 17. White has an extensive collection of guitars and other instruments, and has a preference for vintage items that often have connections to famous blues artists. He is a vocal advocate for analog technology and recording techniques, and he is a board member of the Library of Congress' National Recording Preservation Foundation. His studio (which houses his label, Third Man Records) presses vinyl recordings of his own work, as well as that of other artists and school children that come for tours.[5] His latest album holds the record for most first-week vinyl sales since 1991.

White values his privacy and has been known to create misdirection about his personal life; he has been called "eccentric." He has married and divorced twice—once from his White Stripe bandmate, Meg White, and later to the model (and mother of his children) Karen Elson. He has a daughter (Scarlett) and son (Henry). After negative experiences with fellow Detroit musicians, he left his hometown in 2006. He currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

Early life[edit]

John Anthony Gillis[6] was born in Detroit, Michigan, the youngest of ten children—and the seventh son—of Teresa (née Bandyk) and Gorman M. Gillis.[7] His mother's family was Polish,[8] while his father was of Scottish-Canadian descent.[9][10] He was raised a Catholic,[11] and his father and mother both worked for the Archdiocese of Detroit (as the Building Maintenance Superintendent and secretary in the Cardinal's office, respectively).[3] Gillis became an altar boy, which landed him an uncredited role in the 1987 movie The Rosary Murders, filmed mainly at Holy Redeemer parish in southwest Detroit.[3]

Gillis's early musical influences were inherited from his older brothers, and he learned to play the instruments they abandoned.[12][13] He began playing the drums at the age of six after finding a kit in the attic.[13][14] As a child, he was a fan of classical music,[15] but in elementary school, he began listening to the Doors, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin.[16] As a "shorthaired [teenager] with braces,"[15] Gillis began listening to the blues and 1960s rock that would influence him in The White Stripes,[3] with Son House and Blind Willie McTell being among his favorite blues musicians.[2][17] He has said in interviews that Son House's "Grinnin' In Your Face" is his favorite song of all time.[12][18]

In 2005 on 60 Minutes, he told Mike Wallace that his life could have turned out differently. "I'd got accepted to a seminary in Wisconsin, and I was gonna become a priest, but at the last second I thought, 'I'll just go to public school.' I had just gotten a new amplifier in my bedroom, and I didn't think I was allowed to take it with me."[19] Instead, he got accepted into the famed Cass Technical High School as a business major, and played the drums and trombone in the band.[12][20][21] At 15, Gillis began a three-year upholstery apprenticeship with a family friend, Brian Muldoon.[3] He credits Muldoon with exposing him to punk music as they worked together in the shop.[3][12] Muldoon goaded his young apprentice into forming a band: "He played drums," Gillis thought. "Well I guess I'll play guitar then."[3][22] The two recorded an album, Makers of High Grade Suites, as the Upholsterers.

As a senior in high school, he met Megan White at the Memphis Smoke restaurant where she worked,[23] and they frequented the coffee shops, local music venues, and record stores of the area.[24] After a courtship, they got married on September 21, 1996.[25][26] In a reversal of tradition, he took her last name.[3][27][28]

After completing his apprenticeship, he started a one-man business of his own, Third Man Upholstery.[29] The slogan of his business was "Your Furniture's Not Dead" and the color scheme was yellow and black—including a yellow van, a yellow-and-black uniform, and a yellow clipboard.[29] Although Third Man Upholstery never lacked business, he claims it was unprofitable due to his complacency about money and his business practices that were perceived as unprofessional, including making bills out in crayon and writing poetry inside the furniture.[29]

Career[edit]

The White Stripes[edit]

Main article: The White Stripes
At the O2 Wireless Festival in 2007

The newly christened Jack White was working as an upholsterer by day while moonlighting in local bands, as well as performing solo shows.[12] Previously, while 19 years old, he'd landed his first professional gig as the drummer for the Detroit band Goober & the Peas, and was still in that position when the band broke-up in 1996.[2][12][30] It was in this band that he learned about touring and performing onstage.[12] Though a bartender by trade,[31] Meg began to learn to play the drums in 1997 and, according to Jack, "When she started to play drums with me, just on a lark, it felt liberating and refreshing."[3] The couple became a band, calling themselves The White Stripes,[32] and two months later performed their first show.[12]

Despite being married, Jack and Meg publicly presented themselves as siblings,[33][34] and keeping to a chromatic theme, dressed only in red, white, and black.[35][36] They begin their career as part of the Michigan's underground garage rock music scene.[31][35] They played along with and opened for more established local bands such as Bantam Rooster, the Dirtbombs, Two Star Tabernacle, Rocket 455, and the Hentchmen, among others.[12][31] In 1998, the White Stripes were signed to Italy Records—a small and independent Detroit-based garage punk label—by Dave Buick.[37] The band released its self-titled debut album in 1999, and a year later the album was followed up by the cult classic,[38] De Stijl. The album eventually peaked at number 38 in Billboard's Independent Albums chart.

In 2001 the band released White Blood Cells. The album's stripped-down garage rock sound drew critical acclaim in the US and beyond,[2] making The White Stripes one of the more acclaimed bands of 2002,[31] and forefront figures in the garage band revival of the time.[2][32][39] John Peel, an influential DJ and the band's early advocate in the UK, said they were the most exciting thing he'd heard since Jimi Hendrix.[40] The New York Times said of White, "beneath the arty facade lies one of the most cagey, darkly original rockers to come along since Kurt Cobain."[41] The album was followed up in 2003 by the commercially and critically successful Elephant.[42][43][44][45] Allmusic wrote that the album "sounds even more pissed-off, paranoid and stunning than its predecessor ... darker and more difficult than White Blood Cells. "[46] The album's first single, "Seven Nation Army", became the band's signature song,[47] reaching number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart for three weeks, winning the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Rock Song, and becoming an international sporting and protest anthem.[48][49] The band's fifth album, Get Behind Me Satan, was recorded in White's own home and marked a change in the band's musical direction, with piano-driven melodies and experimentation with marimba and a more rhythm-based guitar playing by White.[2][3]

The band's sixth album, Icky Thump, was released in 2007 and, unlike their previous lo-fi albums, it was recorded in Nashville at Blackbird Studio.[35] It entered the UK Albums Chart at number one and debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200 chart.[50] The album's sound included more punk, garage and blues influences than its predecessor.[according to whom?] In support of the album, they launched a Canadian tour, in which they played a gig in every one of the country's provinces and territories. However, later that year, the band announced the cancellation of 18 tour dates due to Meg's struggle with acute anxiety.[51] A few days later, the duo cancelled the remainder of their 2007 UK tour dates as well.[52]

White worked with other artists in the meantime, but revealed the band's plan to release a seventh album by the summer of 2009.[53][54] On February 20, 2009—and on the final episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien—the band made their first live appearance after the cancellation of the tour,[55] and a documentary about their Canadian tour—titled The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights—debuted later that year at the Toronto International Film Festival.[56] However, almost two years passed with no new releases, and on February 2, 2011, the band reported on their official website that they were disbanding. White emphasized that it was not due to health issues or artistic differences, "but mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band."[57]

The Raconteurs[edit]

Main article: The Raconteurs
Brendan Benson and Jack White

In 2005, while collaborating with Brendan Benson, a fellow musician whom White had worked with while producing Van Lear Rose,[2] they composed a song called "Steady, as She Goes." This inspired them to create a full band, and they invited Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler of the Greenhornes to join them in what would become The Raconteurs. The musicians met in Benson's home studio in Detroit and, for the remainder of the year, they recorded when time allowed. The result was the band's debut album, Broken Boy Soldiers, and the lead single, "Steady, As She Goes" was nominated for a Grammy.[58] The Raconteurs set out on tour to support the album,[2] including eight dates as the opening act for Bob Dylan. The group's second album, Consolers of the Lonely, and its first single, "Salute Your Solution", were released simultaneously in 2008. The album received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Album.

The Dead Weather[edit]

Main article: The Dead Weather
Jack White and Alison Mosshart performing live with the Dead Weather at the Glastonbury Festival, June 26, 2009.

While on tour to promote Consolers of the Lonely, White developed bronchitis and often lost his voice.[2] Allison Mosshart, the frontwoman for the The Kills (who was touring with the Raconteurs the time) would often fill in as his vocal replacement.[2] The chemistry among the two artists led them to collaborate, and in early 2009, White formed a new group called the Dead Weather.[2] White took drum and vocal duties, while the Raconteurs bassist Jack Lawrence and Queens of the Stone Age keyboardist and guitarist Dean Fertita rounded the four piece out.

The group debuted a handful of new tracks on March 11, 2009 in Nashville from their debut album Horehound. It came out on July 13, 2009 in Europe and July 14, 2009 in North America on White's Third Man Records label. In October 2009, Mosshart confirmed that the second album was "halfway done,"[59] and the first single, "Die by the Drop," was released on March 30, 2010. The new album (again on the Third Man Records label) was titled Sea of Cowards and was released on May 7 of that year in Ireland, on May 11 in the U.S., and on May 10 in the United Kingdom.

Solo career[edit]

White's popular and critical success with The White Stripes enabled him to collaborate as a solo artist with other musicians. He has joined other artists on their recordings, as well as invited artists to perform on his projects. He has also worked as a producer for various artists, often through his label, Third Man Records.

Rumors began to circulate in 2003 that White had collaborated with Electric Six for their song "Danger! High Voltage."[60] He and the Electric Six both denied this,[60][61] and the vocal work was credited officially to John S O'Leary.[62] In subsequent interviews with Chris Handyside, however, Dick Valentine and Corey Martin (Electric Six band members) acknowledged White's involvement and confirmed that he received no payment.[63]

White worked with Loretta Lynn on her 2004 album Van Lear Rose,which he produced and performed on.[64] The album was a critical and commercial success.[2] In 2008, White collaborated with Alicia Keys on the song "Another Way to Die", the theme song for the James Bond film Quantum of Solace. In 2009, Jack White was featured in It Might Get Loud, a film in which he, Jimmy Page, and The Edge come together to discuss the electric guitar and each artist's different playing methods.[65] White's first solo single, "Fly Farm Blues," was written and recorded in 10 minutes during the filming of the movie that August.[66] The single went on sale as a 7-inch vinyl record from Third Man Records and as a digital single available through iTunes on August 11. In November 2010, producer Danger Mouse announced that White—along with Norah Jones—had been recruited for his collaboration with Daniele Luppi entitled Rome.[67] White provided vocals to three songs on the album: "The Rose with the Broken Neck," "Two Against One," and "The World."[68] White finished and performed the song "You Know That I Know", and it was featured on The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams, released on October 4, 2011. In that same year, he produced and played on Wanda Jackson's album Let's Have a Party.[64][69] To her delight, his studio also released the album on a 7-inch vinyl.[69]

White has worked with other artists as well, including Beck, the Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck,[70] and Bob Dylan.

On January 30, 2012 White released "Love Interruption" as the first single off his debut, self-produced solo album, Blunderbuss, which was released on April 24, 2012.[71] In support of the album, he appeared on Saturday Night Live as the musical guest and played at at select festivals during the summer of 2012, including the Firefly Music Festival, Radio 1's Hackney Weekend, the Sasquatch! Music Festival, the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan (one of the biggest festivals in the world), and Rock Werchter in Belgium. Later in the year, he headlined Austin City Limits Music Festival. During his tour for the album, White employed two live bands, which he alternated between at random. The first, called The Peacocks, was all female and consisted of Ruby Amanfu, Carla Azar, Lillie Mae Rische, Maggie Bjorklund, Brooke Waggoner, and alternating bassists Bryn Davies and Catherine Popper.[72] The other, The Buzzards, was all male and consisted of Daru Jones, Dominic Davis, Fats Kaplin, Ikey Owens, and Cory Younts.[73] White said maintaining two bands was too expensive,[49] and abandoned the practice at the conclusion of the tour. Blunderbluss was ultimately nominated for several Grammys, including Album of the Year, Best Rock Album, and Best Rock Song for "Freedom at 21."[2]

On April 1, 2014, White announced his second solo album, Lazaretto; it was released on June 10, 2014 simultaneously with the first single off the album, "High Ball Stepper." The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and,[74] in a personal triumph for White,[74] broke the record for the largest sales week for a vinyl album since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991.[74] During the supporting tour, he performed the longest show of his career on July 30, 2014 at the Detroit Masonic Temple.[75]

White (opposite John C. Reilly) portraying Elvis Presley in the satirical 2007 film Walk Hard.

White has also had a minor acting career. He appeared in the 2003 film Cold Mountain as a character named Georgia and performed five songs for the Cold Mountain soundtrack: "Sittin' on Top of the World", "Wayfaring Stranger", "Never Far Away", "Christmas Time Soon Will Be Over" and "Great High Mountain." The 2003 Jim Jarmusch film Coffee and Cigarettes featured both Jack and Meg in the segment "Jack Shows Meg His Tesla Coil." He also played Elvis Presley in the 2007 satire Walk Hard.

Third Man Records[edit]

Main article: Third Man Records

White founded Third Man Records in 2001.[76] However, it was not until he moved to Nashville that White purchased a space to house his label in 2009.[5] He explained, "For the longest time I did not want to have my own studio gear, mostly because with the White Stripes I wanted to have the constriction of going into a studio and having a set time of 10 days or two weeks to finish an album, and using whatever gear they happen to have there. After 10 to 15 years of recording like that I felt that it was finally time for me to have my own place to produce music, and have exactly what I want in there: the exact tape machines, the exact microphones, the exact amplifiers that I like, and so on."[77] Using the slogan “Your Turntable’s Not Dead,"[13] Third Man also presses vinyl records,[78] for the artists on its label, for White's own musical ventures, as well as for third parties for hire. The label released and pressed a 7-inch vinyl of Conan O'Brien's 2010 comedy album "And They Call Me Mad?", which featured an interview of O'Brien by Jack White on its reverse.[79] The White Stripes sold over 300,000 vinyl copies of Icky Thump in England.[78] Of his excitement for vinyl, White explained, "We can't afford to lose the feeling of cracking open a new record and looking at large artwork and having something you can hold in your hands."[78]

Musical equipment and sound[edit]

Instruments and equipment[edit]

White owns many instruments and, historically, has tended to use certain ones for specific projects or in certain settings. He has a preference for vintage guitars, many of which are associated with influential blues artists. Much of his equipment is custom-made, for both technical and aesthetic reasons.

During his career with The White Stripes, White principally used three guitars,[80] though he used others as well. The red, "JB Hutto," Airline guitar was a vintage 1964 model originally distributed by Montgomery Ward department store.[80][81] Though used by several artists, White's attachment to the instrument raised its popularity to the extent that Eastwood Guitars began producing a modified replica around 2000.[80] The 1950s-era Kay Hollowbody was a gift from his brother in return for a favor.[40] It was the same brand of electric guitar made popular by Howling Wolf,[80] and White most famously used it on "Seven Nation Army."[81] He begin using a 1915 Gibson L-1 acoustic (often called the Robert Johnson model) on the Icky Thump album;[80][81] in an interview for Gibson, he called the instrument his favorite.[80] He also used a three-pickup Airline Town & Country (later featured in the "Steady As She Goes" music video),[82] a Harmony Rocket,[82] a 1970s-era Crestwood Astral II,[81][82] and what would become the first of three custom Gretsch Rancher Falcon acoustic guitars.[80] While with the Stripes, any equipment that did not match their red/black/white color scheme were painted red.

While the Raconteurs were still in development, White commissioned luthier Randy Parsons to create what White called the Triple Jet—a custom guitar styled after the Duo Jet double-cutaway guitar.[83] Parsons's first product was painted copper color, however he decided to create a second version with a completely copper body, which White began to use instead.[83] For the Raconteurs first tour, White also played a Gretsch Anniversary Jr. with a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece and three Filtertron pickups.[82][83] He later added a custom Gretsch Anniversary Jr. with two cutaways, a lever-activated mute system, a built-in and retractable bullet microphone, and a light-activated theremin next to the Bigsby.[80] White has dubbed this one the "Green Machine",[80][81] and it is featured in It Might Get Loud.[80] He sometimes played a Gibson J-160E,[82] a Gretsch Duo Jet in Cadillac Green,[82] and a second Gretsch Rancher acoustic guitar.[80] For the Raconteurs' 2008 tour, he had Analog Man plate all of his pedals in copper.[84]

He has since acquired another Gretsch, a custom white Billy Gibbons/Bo Diddley signature Gretsch Jupiter Thunderbird with a gold double pickguard (as seen in the music video for "Another Way to Die").[80][81] White found a 1957 Gretsch G6134 White Penguin in 2007 while on tour in Texas[80]—the same one he used in the music video for "Icky Thump"[81]—which ultimately fit in with the Dead Weather's color scheme. He also uses a black left-handed one since the Dead Weather album Sea of Cowards came out.[citation needed] He has also been known to play Fender Telecasters,[80][81] featuring one in the music video for Loretta Lynn's "Portland, Oregon."

White owns three Grestch Rancher Falcons because he says that its bass tones make it his favorite acoustic to play live.[80] They are collectively referred to as his "girlfriends," as each one has an image of a classic movie star on the back. Claudette Colbert is the brunette he used while with the Stripes, Rita Hayworth is the redhead he acquired with the Raconteurs, and Veronica Lake is the blonde he added in 2010 while with the Dead Weather.[80]

Demonstrates the "fake" bass tone White achieves by using an octave pedal.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

White uses numerous effects to create his live sound, most notably a DigiTech Whammy WH-4 to create the rapid modulations in pitch he uses in his solos.[85] White also produces a "fake" bass tone by playing the Kay Hollowbody and JB Hutto Montgomery Airline guitars through a Whammy IV set to one octave down for a very thick, low, rumbling sound, which he uses most notably on the songs "Seven Nation Army" and "The Hardest Button to Button" during live performances.[85][citation needed] He also uses an MXR Micro Amp and custom Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Distortion/Sustainer.[82] In 2005, for the single "Blue Orchid," White employed a Electro-Harmonix Polyphonic Octave Generator (POG),[citation needed] which lets the user mix in several octave effects into one along with the dry signal. He plugs this setup into a and 1970s Fender Twin Reverb "Silverface" and two 100-Watt Sears Silvertone 1485 6×10 amplifiers.[81][citation needed] He also used a 1960s 1960s Fender Twin Reverb "Blackface".[81]

On occasion, White also plays other instruments, such as a Black Gibson F-4 mandolin ("Little Ghost"), piano (on most tracks from Get Behind Me Satan, and various others), and an electric piano on such tracks as "The Air Near My Fingers" and "I'm Finding it Harder to be a Gentleman". White also plays percussion instruments such as the marimba (as on "The Nurse"),[3] drums and tambourine. For The White Stripes' 2007 tour, he played a custom-finish Hammond A-100 organ with a Leslie 3300 speaker, which was subsequently loaned to Bob Dylan, and currently resides at Third Man Studios.[86] On the album Broken Boy Soldiers, he is credited as playing the album's synths and organ; however, bandmate Brendan Benson also received credit for these instruments and it is unclear who played on which song.

With the Dead Weather, White plays a custom Ludwig Classic Maple kit in Black Oyster Pearl. The sizes consist of the following: 16×26 kick, 5×16 snare (primary) 12×14 marching snare (secondary), 7×16 rack tom 14×16 floor tom, two 16×16 floor toms, Paiste 2002 24" crash, 24" ride and two 16" crashes as hi-hats. For the 2009 Full Flash Blank tour, White used a drum head with the Three Brides of Dracula on the front, but in 2010, White employed a new drum head, upon the release of Sea of Cowards, which has an image of The Third Man himself: Harry Lime attempting to escape certain capture in the sewers of Vienna. During the American leg of the 2010 tour, White switched his drum head again featuring a picture of himself in the guise he wore on the cover of Sea of Cowards. This drum head is called Sam Kay by some fans, referring to the insert inside of the 12" LP.

Minimalist style[edit]

"I love analogue because of what it makes you do. Digital recording gives you all this freedom, all these options to change the sounds that you are putting down, and those are for the most part not good choices to have for an artist," and "Mechanics are always going to provide inherent little flaws and tiny little specks and hisses that will add to the idea of something beautiful, something romantic. Perfection, making things perfectly in time and perfectly free of extraneous noise, is not something to aspire to! Why would anyone to aspire to such a thing?"[77]

Jack White

White has long been a proponent of analog equipment and the associated working methods.[35][64] Beginning in the fifth grade, he and his childhood friend, Dominic Suchyta, would listen to records in White's attic on weekends and began to record cover songs on an old four-track reel to reel tape machine.[12] The White Stripes' first album was largely recorded in the attic of his parents' home.[12]

As their fame grew beyond Detroit, the Stripes became known for their affected innocence and stripped-down playing style.[2] In particular, White became distinguished for his nasal vocal delivery and loose, explosive guitar delivery.[2] In an early New York Times concert review from 2001, Ann Powers said that, while White's playing was "ingenious," he "created more challenges by playing an acoustic guitar with paper taped over the hole and a less-than-high-quality solid body electric."[34]

His home studio in Nashville contains two rooms ("I want everyone close, focused, feeling like we're in it together.")[5] with two pieces of equipment: a Neve mixing console,[5] and two Studer A800 2-inch 8-track tape recorders.[citation needed]

In his introduction in the documentary film, It Might Get Loud, White showcases his minimalist style by constructing a guitar built out of a plank of wood, three nails, a glass Coke bottle, a guitar string, and a pickup. He ends the demonstration by saying, "Who says you need to buy a guitar?"[22] In a 2012 episode of the show Portlandia, White made a cameo in a sketch spoofing home studio enthusiasts who prefer antique recording equipment.[87]

Reception[edit]

White has enjoyed both critical and popular success, and is widely credited as one of the key artists in the garage rock revival of the 2000s.[2] Rolling Stone ranked him number 70 on its 2010 list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".[88] David Fricke's 2011 list ranked him at number 17.[89] He has won eight Grammy Awards and both of his solo albums have reached number one on the Billboard charts. Interviewers note the wide breadth of the music styles and eras he draws from for inspiration.[90]

Much has been made of White's "showmanship" and affectations.[85] Since the beginning, critics have debated the "riddle" of White's self-awareness against his claims of authenticity,[34][41] with people falling on both sides of the issue. Joe Hagan of The New York Times asked in 2001, "Is Mr. White, a 25-year-old former upholsterer from southwest Detroit, concocting this stuff with a wink? Or are the White Stripes simply naïve?"[41] Alexis Petridis, of The Guardian, said that White "makes for an enigmatic figure. Not because he's particularly difficult or guarded, but simply because what he tells you suggests a lifelong penchant for inscrutable behaviour."[49] White himself confesses, "Sometimes I think I'm a simple guy, but I think the reality is I'm really complicated, as simple as I wish I was".[49]

Personal life[edit]

White is protective of his privacy and gives few details of his family life, even going as far as to disseminate false information.[27] He states that he does not consider his personal life relevant to his art, saying "It's the same thing as asking Michelangelo, 'What kind of shoes do you wear?'...In the end, it doesn't really matter ... the only thing that's going to be left is our records and photos."[40]

Relationships[edit]

Drummer Meg White, Jack's former bandmate and ex-wife.

Jack and Meg officially divorced on March 24, 2000—before their band reached mainstream stardom.[91]

In 2003, Jack had a brief but highly publicized romantic relationship with actress Renée Zellweger, whom he met during the filming of Cold Mountain. That summer, the couple were in a car accident in which White broke his left index finger and was forced to reschedule much of the summer tour.[92] He posted the footage of his finger surgery on the web for fans.[93] White and Zellweger's breakup became public in December 2004.[94]

White met British model Karen Elson when she appeared in The White Stripes music video for "Blue Orchid". The video's director, Floria Sigismondi, noted "you sensed an energy between them".[95][96] They married on June 1, 2005, in Manaus, Brazil.[96] The wedding took place in a canoe on the Amazon River and was officiated by a shaman. A Roman Catholic priest later convalidated their marriage.[97] Manager Ian Montone was the best man and Meg White was the maid of honor.[97] Official wedding announcements stated that "it was the first marriage" for both.[97] On May 2, 2006, the couple had a daughter, Scarlett Teresa White.[98] Their second child, Henry Lee White, was born on August 7, 2007.[99] The White family resided in Brentwood, Tennessee, a suburb south of Nashville,[100] where Elson managed a vintage clothing store called Venus & Mars.[101][102] Elson provided vocals on White's first solo record.[102] However, the couple announced their intention to divorce in June 2011,[103] throwing a "a positive swing bang humdinger" party to commemorate the split.[5][27] On July 22, 2013, a Nashville judge barred White from having "any contact with Karen Elson whatsoever except as it relates to parenting time with the parties' minor children."[104] A counter-motion by White's attorney Cathy Speers Johnson was filed on August 2, 2013, stating that "The reason for filing this response is that Mr. White does not want to be portrayed as something he is not, violent toward his wife and children."[105] Their divorce was made final on November 26, 2013.[106] Elson later recanted the charges, attributing the "aggressive" proceedings to her divorce attorneys, and saying "those who gain of a marriage ending helped to create a downward spiral at my most vulnerable."[5] White agreed, saying, "When shitty lawyers are in a situation like divorce, their goal is to villainize."[5] The former couple have since remained on good terms.[27]

'Eccentricism'[edit]

White has been called "eccentric."[107][108][109][110] He is known for creating mythology around his endeavors;[9] examples include his claim that the Stripes began on Bastille Day,[31] that he and Meg are the two youngest of ten siblings,[31][33][111] and that Third Man Records used to be a candy factory.[13] These assertions came into question or were disproven, such as when, in 2002, the Detroit Free Press produced copies of both a marriage license and divorce certificate for he and Meg, confirming their history as a married couple.[91] Neither addresses the truth officially, and Jack continues to refer to Meg as his sister in interviews,[13] including in the documentary Under Great White Northern Lights, filmed in 2007.[112]

It became hypnotic. This was the minimum amount of staples I could put to hold this fabric down. The number three exemplifies the almost iconic, mysterious perfection that cannot be obtained...To this day, I still think about it all the time.[49]

White, on how seeing three staples on a upholstery piece triggered his affinity for the number three.

He has an attachment to the number three,[35][113] stemming from seeing three staples in the back of a Vladimir Kagan couch he helped to upholster as an apprentice.[49] His business ventures frequently feature three in the title and he typically appends "III" to the end of his name.[27] During his 2007 tour in the UK, White began referring to himself as "Three Quid"—"quid" being British slang for pound sterling.[114]

He maintains an aesthetic that he says challenges whether people will believe he is "real."[3][27] He frequently color-codes his endeavors, such as the aforementioned Third Man Upholstery and The White Stripes, as well as Third Man Records, which is completely outfitted in yellow, black, red, and blue (including staff uniforms).[5] As a taxidermy enthusiast—that correlates to his work as an upholsterer—he outfits his studio in preserved animals, including a peacock, giraffe, and Himalayan goat.[27] His entourage are expected to dress in a way that corresponds to his current project, while still being able to express themselves individually.[citation needed]

Controversy[edit]

On December 13, 2003, White was involved in an altercation with Jason Stollsteimer, lead singer of the Von Bondies, at the Magic Stick, a Detroit club.[115][116] White was charged with misdemeanor aggravated assault.[117] He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of assault and battery, was fined $750 (including court costs), and was sentenced to take anger management classes.[5][116]

"I so love your heart that burns
That in your people's body yearns
To perpetuate, and permeate, the lonely dream that does encapsulate,
Your spirit, that God insulates,
With courageous dream's concern"[16]

—Excerpt from "Courageous Dream's Concern," as published in the Detroit Free Press

White has repeatedly referenced conflicts that erupted between him and fellow artists in Detroit's underground music scene after The White Stripes gained international success.[3][35] In a 2006 interview with the Associate Press, he said that he eventually left Detroit because, "he could not take the negativity anymore."[118] However, in an effort to clarify his feelings towards the city of Detroit itself, he wrote and released a poem called "Courageous Dream's Concern."[118] In it, he expresses his affection for his hometown.[16][118]

During their 2013 divorce proceedings, Elson entered into evidence an e-mail that White had sent her that happened to include disparaging remarks about The Black Keys.[27][119] When asked about the incident in a 2014 Rolling Stone magazine interview, White stood by the remarks saying, "I'll hear TV commercials where the music's ripping off sounds of mine, to the point I think it's me. Half the time, it's the Black Keys."[5] He later apologized for the comments.[120]

Philanthropy[edit]

In 2009, White donated almost $170,000 towards the renovation of the baseball diamond in southwest Detroit's Clark Park.[121]

The Detroit Masonic Temple was nearly foreclosed on in 2013 after it was revealed that owners owed $142,000 in back taxes.[122] In June 2013, it was revealed that White had footed the entire bill. To thank him for the donation, the temple has decided to rename its second largest theater the Jack White Theater.[122][123]

The National Recording Preservation Foundation received an inaugural gift of $200,000 from White to use towards restoring and preserving deteriorating sound recordings on media such as reel-to-reel tape and old cylinders.[124] The foundation's director, Eric J. Schwartz said the donation demonstrated a "commitment by a really busy songwriter and performer donating both his time on the board, and money to preserve our national song recording heritage."[124] White also serves on the foundation's board.[125]

Awards & nominations[edit]

For his various collaborations and solo work, White has won regional, national and international awards, including eight Grammy Awards. He has been nominated for many more. Nashville mayor Karl Dean awarded White the title of "Nashville Music City Ambassador" in 2011.[126] Listed below are notable awards he's won as a solo performing artist:

Award Year Recipient Nomination Result
Satellite Awards 2008 "Another Way To Die" (Jack White and Alicia Keys) Best Original Song Won
O Music Awards 2013 Jack White Analog Genius Award Won

Band[edit]

Current line-up[edit]

  • Dominic Davis – bass
  • Dean Fertita – B3 organ, piano, keyboards
  • Daru Jones – drums
  • Fats Kaplin – pedal steel guitar, fiddle, mandolin, theremin
  • Lillie Mae Rische – fiddle, mandolin, background vocals
  • Cory Younts – mandolin, harmonica, piano, keyboards, percussion, background vocals

Previous members[edit]

  • Ikey Owens – B3 organ, piano, keyboards. Died while on tour in Mexico, October 14, 2014

While on tour in support of Blunderbuss, White toured with two, single-gender bands that he alternated between at random:

The Buzzards
  • Dominic Davis – bass
  • Daru Jones – drums
  • Fats Kaplin – pedal steel guitar, fiddle, mandolin, theremin
  • Ikey Owens – B3 organ, piano, keyboards
  • Cory Younts – mandolin, harmonica, piano, keyboards, percussion, background vocals
The Peacocks
  • Ruby Amanfu – vocals
  • Carla Azar – drums
  • Maggie Bjorklund – pedal steel guitar, acoustic guitar
  • Catherine Popper – bass
  • Bryn Davies – bass
  • Lillie Mae Rische – fiddle, mandolin, background vocals
  • Brooke Waggoner – piano, B3 organ, keyboards

Discography[edit]

Solo studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
US
[127]
AUS
[128]
BEL
[129]
CAN
[130]
FRA
[131]
NLD
[132]
NZ
[133]
SWE
[134]
SWI
[135]
UK
[136]
Blunderbuss 1 2 1 1 5 4 2 20 1 1
Lazaretto 1 3 2 1 9 5 2 21 2 4
"—" denotes a release that did not chart.

Solo singles[edit]

Title Year Peak chart positions Album
US
[127]
US
Alt.

[127]
US
Main.

[127]
US
Rock

[127]
AUS
[128]
BEL
[129]
CAN
[130]
CAN
Alt.

[141]
CAN
Rock

[142]
FRA
[131]
SWI
[135]
UK
[136]
"Another Way to Die"
(with Alicia Keys)
2008 81 29 10 15 98 4 9 Quantum of Solace soundtrack
"Love Interruption" 2012 106 13 27 70 72 6 11 126 Blunderbuss
"Sixteen Saltines" 12 30 66 93 6 16 171 129
"Freedom at 21" 22 35 77 16 32
"I'm Shakin'" 33 26
"Lazaretto" 2014 108 9 31 16 68 98 10 20 173 116 Lazaretto
"Would You Fight for My Love?" 2014 38

Other charted songs[edit]

Title Year Peak chart positions Album
US
[127]
US
Alt.

[127]
US
Main.

[127]
US
Rock

[127]
AUS
[128]
BEL
[129]
CAN
[130]
CAN
Alt.

[141]
CAN
Rock

[142]
FRA
[131]
SWI
[135]
UK
[136]
"High Ball Stepper" 2014 107 199 Lazaretto

As producer[edit]

White has been the main or sole producer on all of his own work, as well as that of other bands, particularly those on his Third Man Records label. This is a list of his production credits of notable acts.

Soundtrack appearances[edit]

Album appearances[edit]

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Entertainment Weekly staff (July 13, 2012), "Monitor". Entertainment Weekly. (1215):20
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Leahey, Andrew. Jack White Biography at AllMusic. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Fricke, David (September 8, 2005), "White on White". Rolling Stone. (982): 66–72
  4. ^ "Jack White's new band: The Dead Weather". idiomag. July 21, 2009. Retrieved July 23, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j WEINER, JONAH (June 5, 2014), "Jack White." Rolling Stone. 1210:52–78
  6. ^ Dunn 2009, p. 166
  7. ^ (May 31, 2014), "GORMAN GILLIS: Father of Detroit musician", Detroit Free Press. Retrieved June 6, 2014
  8. ^ Male, Andrew (July 2007), "The Mojo Interview". MOJO. (164):48
  9. ^ a b Rayner, Ben (February 21, 2010), "Red, white and new—Seeing sights, wooing strangers", Toronto Star.
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  14. ^ Scaggs, Austin (May 1, 2003),Jack White profile (archived). Rolling Stone. (921):16
  15. ^ a b Sullivan 2004, p. 16.
  16. ^ a b c McCollum, Brian (July 6, 2008), "Exclusive: Read Jack White's poem for Detroit". Retrieved July 30, 2014.
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  136. ^ a b c Peak chart positions in the United Kingdom:
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  142. ^ a b Peak positions for Jack White's singles on Canadian Active rock Chart:
  143. ^ a b Hay, Carla (April 27, 2002), "White Stripes' Garage Rock Goes Pop". Billboard. 114 (17):80
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Bibliography[edit]

  • Dunn, Brad (2009). When They Were 22: 100 Famous People at the Turning Point in Their Lives. Location unknown:Andrews McMeel Publishing ISBN 0740786814
  • Handyside, Chris (2004). Fell in Love with a Band: The Story of The White Stripes. Location unknown:St. Martin's Griffin ISBN 0312336187
  • Sullivan, Denise (2004). "White Stripes – Sweethearts of the Blues". Location unknown:Hal Leonard Corporation ISBN 1617802271

External links[edit]