The (Jack) White Stripes


By Victoria Sananikone, Assistant Editor

When asked who you believe are the most iconic music artists of all time, who pops into your mind? Common answers could range between those such as Led Zeppelin, to The Beatles, to Elton John, to Lady Gaga, to Kanye West (although if anyone chose the latter they would definitely fall under the label of being “uncultured”). An artist whose talent and influence on the history of music that is frequently overlooked would be Jack White, the former lead singer and guitarist of The White Stripes. The White Stripes was a two-man band, consisting of Jack White and his wife, Meg White, someone who’s influence is almost nonexistent compared to Jack’s.

Originally born Jack Gillis, he ended up taking his wife’s last name, White, and together they formed The White Stripes, the title concocted from their last name and Meg’s fondness of the peppermint candy. At their first gig, Jack rocked out on his guitar while he sang the songs he had written himself, and meanwhile Meg banged on a set of drums even though she didn’t even know how to play them. Both novices to the world of rock, the couple nevertheless entranced the audience with talent that seemed to be produced over night. Their album “Elephant,” reigns as their most critically acclaimed album, featuring their wildly known hit “Seven Nation Army.” Together, their sound formed a cross between 1930’s delta blues and early punk rock and although their band only consisted of two people, their concerts were as wild and chaotic with spirit as any other popular rock band. Their concerts were known for Jack’s heavy use of distortion, a form of audio signal processing which alters the sound of amplified electrical musical instruments, usually producing a growling or gritty tone. Their concerts were completely unstructured and reckless, as they never even prepared set lists for any of their shows, believing that the spontaneity of their performance would be diminished if they planned too thoroughly.

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Heralded as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, Jack White was a heavy believer in the beauty of simplicity and the number three, as The White Stripes consisted of only three instruments: guitar, drums and vocals. White’s style of playing is a unique one, for many try to copy his sound, but no one can truly succeed at this attempt. In 2000, Jack and Meg divorced right before the pinnacle of the bands fame, referring to each other as siblings after their split. Jack went on to feature in multiple bands and side projects. He produced and performed with Loretta Lynn on her 2004 album “Van Lear Rose,” an album whose success skyrocketed. His collaboration with Alicia Keys landed him to be featured in the James Bond film “Quantum of Solace,” which featured their song “Another Way to Die.” Along with Brendan Benson, White composed a song called “Steady as She Goes,” which inspired the duo to create a band titled The Raconteurs. White released “Love Interruption” on January 30, 2012, which was the first single off of his first solo album, “Blunderbuss” which was released on April 24, 2012. He went on to appear on Saturday Night Live and even played at select festivals around the world in the summer of 2012, such as Firefly Music Festival, Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend, the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan and Rock Werchter in Belgium. Later that year, he was selected to be the headliner of Austin City Limits Music Festival, a feat unlike any other, for this festival is one of the largest and most popular in the nation.

Jack White has served as one of the most influential musical artists in history. Along with his wife, he created a band that is still listened to by people today, one that has sparked intuition and artistry from a number of other artists. His story exemplifies the concept of achieving your dreams and leaving your mark on society in a manner that cannot be replicated by any other.