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Jack White Biography: White Stripes, Raconteurs, Dead Weather

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Born July 9th, 1975 in Detroit, Michigan, Jack White started playing in bands as a teenager. After marrying Meg White in the 90s, he formed The White Stripes and they soon became a very successful garage rock duo. Despite their divorce, they continued to make music together, creating top ten albums and winning Grammys. Meanwhile, White formed 2 other bands: The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather. Though The Whites Stripes broke up, he continued to make music on his own and released a solo album in 2012. In this video, takes a look at the life and career of Jack White.

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Welcome to and today we’re taking a look at the life and career of Jack White.

Growing Up

John Anthony Gillis, otherwise known as Jack White, was born July 9th, 1975 in Detroit, Michigan. As a child, he listened to classical music and learned to play drums and guitar by age nine.

Joining Bands as a Teen

Gillis moved to blues and rock as a teen. He began recording cover songs at his house and joined several bands. After being exposed to punk, he and a friend formed the garage punk band The Upholsterers, with Gillis on guitar. Meanwhile, Gillis ran his own upholstery business, but his blasé attitude towards money cut that career short. He decided to pursue music full-time instead.

The White Stripes Formation

In the mid-‘90s, Gillis met local bartender Meg White. The pair soon married, and Gillis unconventionally took her last name. After Meg learned to play the drums, she and Jack White formed a garage punk band. The White Stripes played their first show in 1997. The couple decided to keep their marital status a secret for the majority of their time as a band, and instead claimed to be brother and sister in the hopes of keeping media attention on their music rather than their relationship.

First Singles

After playing small gigs alongside other local groups and gaining popularity on Michigan’s underground garage rock scene, they were signed to Italy Records, in 1998. That same year, the indie label released their first two singles on vinyl. Their third single came out on another indie label, Sympathy for the Record Industry, in 1999.

Start of Popularity

The White Stripes’ self-titled debut was released on that same label a few months later. The alternative and garage rock effort was followed by De Stijl the next year. The album quickly became a cult classic and cultivated the group’s popularity. It also marked the first time one of their albums charted, as it eventually reached the top forty of the Billboard Independent Albums chart.

Mainstream Success

Despite the pair’s divorce in 2000, they continued releasing studio albums until the band’s 2011 break-up. The White Stripes’ last record on an indie label was 2001’s White Blood Cells, which produced the hit “Fell in Love with a Girl.” They switched to major label V2 with 2003’s critically and commercially successful Elephant, and this disc spawned their most popular single: the Grammy-winning “Seven Nation Army.” The White Stripes also won Grammys for Best Alternative Music Album for both 2005’s Get Behind Me Satan and 2007’s Icky Thump.

The Raconteurs

In 2005, while still part of The White Stripes, White formed The Raconteurs with Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler. Before the end of the decade, the rock band dropped two Grammy-nominated albums: 2006’s Broken Boy Soldiers, which contained the successful track, “Steady, As She Goes” and 2008’s Consolers of the Lonely.

The Dead Weather

Not content with being part of two celebrated bands, White formed a new group in 2009. Along with White on drums, the alternative rock super-group included Alison Mosshart from The Kills, Jack Lawrence from The Raconteurs and Dean Fertita from Queens of the Stone Age. Both of The Dead Weather’s albums, 2009’s Horehound and 2010’s Sea of Cowards, reached the top 10 on the Billboard 200.

Movie Songs

As if this wasn’t enough, White also established himself as a solo artist and a prolific producer. In 2003, he contributed several songs to the “Cold Mountain” soundtrack and even acted in the war drama. Five years later, he collaborated with Alicia Keys on the theme for the James Bond film “Quantum of Solace.”

Solo Career

In 2009, White appeared alongside other guitar greats in “It Might Get Loud,” and it was through this rock documentary he released his first solo single. White then contributed to a collaborative project between producer Danger Mouse and Italian composer Daniele Luppi called Rome. He finally released his debut solo album, Blunderbuss, in 2012 via his label, Third Man Records.

Rock Star

Jack White isn’t your ordinary rock star: he is a true artist, concerned with nothing else but making good, enduring music. With relentless musical pursuits and explosive creativity, White has managed to establish himself as a unique and talented force who is sure to leave a lasting mark on rock.

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