Encyclopedia Of Detroit

White Stripes, The

The White Stripes was a two-person rock band from Detroit, Michigan that has added to the lexicon of Detroit sound. Formed in 1997, members were Meg White (drums and occasional vocals) and songwriter Jack White (vocals, guitar, and keyboards).

Jack White was born Jack Gillis on July 9, 1975 in southwest Detroit and Megan White was born on December 10, 1974 in Grosse Pointe Woods. The two met at a local restaurant and became friends. Gillis at the time was playing drums with friends and in a local group, Goober and the Peas. They married in 1996 with Jack taking his wife’s surname. 

After teaching Meg to play the drums they formed a band, naming themselves The White Stripes because of Meg’s fondness for red and white peppermint candy. They were part of the Michigan underground garage rock scene, playing with many local bands including the Detroit Cobras, the Dirtbombs, the Paybacks, and Rocket 455.  

Their first public performance was at the Gold Dollar in Detroit on August 14, 1997. The band’s debut album, The White Stripes, was released on June 15, 1999. They subsequently released five albums between 2000 and 2007, titled De StijlWhite Blood CellsElephantGet Behind Me Satan, and Icky Thump

The couple divorced in 2000 but created a myth that they were brother and sister. The divorce didn’t affect their performance and musical collaboration, the couple remaining inseparable as musicians and creating a dynamic tension onstage.

The White Stripes rose to prominence in 2002 after releasing several singles and three albums within the Detroit music scene. Two of their albums, White Blood Cells and Elephant, were particularly popular. They were called “the greatest live act since Jimi Hendrix” by the British Guardian newspaper, earning them fans overseas. Their single “Seven Nation Army,” and its unique guitar riff, brought the band further acclaim.  

The White Stripes’ trademark was their uncomplicated, technically simple writing and recording style, with musical production influenced by garage rock, blues, and early punk. They also developed their own color scheme of red, white, and black, which appeared on each of their album and single covers.

After a long hiatus from performing and recording, The White Stripes disbanded in 2011. Their total discography consists of six studio albums, 13 live albums, one extended play, one concert film, one tour documentary, 29 singles, and 17 music videos. Their last three albums, Elephant (2003), Get Behind Me Satan (2005), and Icky Thump (2007), each won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album.



White Stripes promotional poster, 2003 - 2012.005.027

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