The White Stripes: The Last Great Band

White Stripes, 2007

It’s over. According to an announcement on their website, Jack and Meg White “will make no further new recordings or perform live” together as the White Stripes.

I’ve always felt a connection between the band and this web site. We have similar roots, being from Michigan and digging the sixties garage rock scene. GLONO’s first bit of national exposure came when we sent Jeff Sabatini to the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center in downtown Detroit in May 2002 with $15 to purchase an official copy of Jack and Meg’s 1996 marriage license. We were the first place to publish that document online.

But that wasn’t the first time we had covered the band. Johnny Loftus caught them at the Empty Bottle way back in July 2001, and we’ve kept tabs on them ever since.

“The reason is not due to artistic differences or lack of wanting to continue, nor any health issues as both Meg and Jack are feeling fine and in good health. It’s for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way.”

That statement from the official announcement reveals a lot of what I love about Jack White. He gives a shit about rock and roll. In fact, he’s downright romantic about it. And we need that. We need a lot more of it, actually.

Jack might be goofy and gimmicky, but I respect the way he attempts to make things special and unique. He has an intrinsic sense of showmanship. And this is show business after all. So why not have a little fun with it?

One of the fundamental tenets of show biz is to keep ’em wanting more. And calling it quits while people still care is a smart move. As the announcement says, “Third Man Records will continue to put out unreleased live and studio recordings from the White Stripes.” So it’s not like they’re killing the goose. If you want to be cynical about it, just imagine how much they’ll rake in on the inevitable reunion tour in 2019.

But now is not the time to be cynical. Now we should be thankful to Jack and Meg for creating as much good music together as they did, and for shining a spotlight on a region and style(s) of music that had been widely ignored before the White Stripes got famous.

Do you remember seeing “Fell in Love with a Girl” on MTV and thinking, How the hell did they trick someone into playing this on the air? It seemed like a novelty song with a quirky little video compared to everything else in the mainstream at the time. White Blood Cells was a great album, but surely that was just a fluke.

Then came “Seven Nation Army” and all of a sudden they were the biggest band in the world. It was just so weird. Bands that are opening up for other bands at the Gold Dollar in Detroit one day just don’t get played on Top 40 radio stations a few years later. It just doesn’t happen.

Well, it doesn’t. But it did. And things were pretty exciting for a while there. And let’s face it, things have been considerably less exciting in the rock and roll world since the White Stripes released their final album, Icky Thump, in 2007. Or maybe it’s just me. Who knows?

But man, I’m really glad I got to see them at the Metro in Chicago back in the day. I remember watching Meg stare at Jack while they played and thinking, Damn, if they really were brother-and-sister this would be creepy! There was a chemistry between them like nothing I’ve ever seen in a show. Sparks were flying. It was something else.

So it’s a drag that people won’t be able to see that anymore, but I’m glad they’re going out before they lose those sparks, that chemistry, that magic.

Photo by Russ Turk for Glorious Noise. Irving Plaza, 2007.

MP3: The White Stripes – “You’re Pretty Good Looking from De Stijl via Metro Times

The White Stripes: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, eMusic, MOG, wiki

Complete text of official announcement:

The White Stripes would like to announce that today, February 2nd, 2011, their band has officially ended and will make no further new recordings or perform live.

The reason is not due to artistic differences or lack of wanting to continue, nor any health issues as both Meg and Jack are feeling fine and in good health.

It is for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve What is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way.

Meg and Jack want to thank every one of their fans and admirers for the incredible support they have given throughout the 13 plus years of the White Stripes’ intense and incredible career.

Third Man Records will continue to put out unreleased live and studio recordings from The White Stripes in their Vault Subscription record club, as well as through regular channels.

Both Meg and Jack hope this decision isn’t met with sorrow by their fans but that it is seen as a positive move done out of respect for the art and music that the band has created. It is also done with the utmost respect to those fans who’ve shared in those creations, with their feelings considered greatly.

With that in mind the band have this to say:

“The White Stripes do not belong to Meg and Jack anymore. The White Stripes belong to you now and you can do with it whatever you want. The beauty of art and music is that it can last forever if people want it to. Thank you for sharing this experience. Your involvement will never be lost on us and we are truly grateful.”


Meg and Jack White

The White Stripes

13 thoughts on “The White Stripes: The Last Great Band”

  1. They were the best. Songs like “Screwdriver” and “Cannon” are still my favorites, but “Seven Nation Army” is the jam.

    If you are a fan of “early” Whhite Stripes and haven’t heard a lot of Dead Moon, check ’em out. They eased my withdrawl symptoms.

  2. Now I’m kid of disappointed, because I never saw them after they got big. I never saw them in a “real” venue. Should have went when I had the opportunity.

  3. You have to appreciate Jack keeping the lies going right up to the end. I had heard people fairly close to the band say they were done four years ago, but I’m still a little surprised. I didn’t think Jack would really kill the cash-cow. Obviously though, he didn’t have a choice. Meg clearly isn’t up to it. I saw her in a bar a few weeks ago, I don’t know… she looks troubled. Probably shouldn’t say that but I’m hardly the only one doing so. I find myself sad even though they seem to have run out of good stuff by the last records. They really were something special. Even the most jaded Detroit hipster was in awe of what they accomplished. And then they would

    badmouth Jack. I didn’t see the Gold Dollar show they call their first appearance. I think the actual first WS show was at the considerably less cool, all-ages coffee shop called Planet Ant in Hamtramck. I probably saw the next one after the Gold Dollar and many times before they exploded. I remember their famous Blowout appearance at Paychecks on a bill with the Hentchmen. I remember Jack and guys from the other bands waiting at the bar to see if Meg was going to show up. This was within days of their marital split and nobody was sure what was going to happen. I recall people saying that Jack had rehearsed a set with maybe Dave Buick on bass and his nephew playing drums. I thought Two Star Tabernacle, Jack’s band with Dan Miller, was far more interesting at the time. Meg showed of course and history would be made. I don’t remember them being great that night or during that period. Others will say they were great from the start, and maybe they were. I felt they grew into something special. I remember seeing them around the time of De Stijl, when they opened for the Pretty Things at the Magic Bag. THAT was the first time I saw them when they were just fantastic. Meg was adorable and drumming in a short skirt! They sounded great and Jack ended a killer set with a version of Bo Diddley’s Pretty Thing in honor of the Pretty Things. They were fantastic and that was the best set I ever saw them do. I always thought they were better in small doses. I saw some of the big headlining shows and you had to admire what they had pulled off and how fun the little details were, the Betty Boop cartoons and having the Hentchmen and the Go open. But what they did was a little too limited for a 90 minute set. I always got bored during those headlining gigs. I’ll never forget that Pretty Things show though. I’m sad to see them go, even if they were already gone.

  4. That sucks, but it isn’t a huge surprise. I think we all knew the Stripes were done. And I agree with you Jake – this is the best time for them to call it quits. More bands should go out with a solid rep and not keep dredging up crap. The last time someone ended when they were supposed to was when Bill Watterson pulled the plug on Calvin & Hobbes.

    I will miss the crazy, uneven albums and their offstage shenanigans. I will also miss the great color scheme and the weirdness in general. The White Stripes were a great, strange band.

  5. The Last Great Band, huh? Well…

    Mixmaster Shecky, since you brought up an example outside the realm of music I’ll do the same: just a few days ago 32 year old KC Royals pitcher Gil Meche retired instead of cashing in the $12m owed to him for the upcoming 2011 MLB season. He felt he physically didn’t have it in him anymore and instead of “coasting” on the last year his contract via rehab and the disabled list, he chose to pack it in, and in the process left $12m on the table. Yeah, he’d already made $40m in the big leagues, but walking away from more than 25% of that is still a big deal.

  6. First of all, thanks for giving me a photo credit for that shot I took of the WHITE STRIPES in the article!

    Secondly, I was shocked when I read this yesterday on the net.

    They are one of the only bands that make ROCK music that I like these days. Jack will still make music with all the bands he’s in, but what about Meg? What will she do?

    I’m glad they never released a dud album, but I wish they’d make more music before calling it quits.

    If you want to see ALL of the WHITE STRIPES photos I took at that ICKY THUMP cd release show, go here:

    June 19, 2007 NYC

  7. Congrats to them for going out on top, preserving their legacy, for taking chances during their career, and for doing everything, basically, right.

    Meanwhile, R.E.M. has a new one coming out…@#$%*.

  8. I’m told by someone who probably knows: Meg is happily married and probably happily retired from music and the spotlight.

  9. I guess everyone writing about their opinions conserning to the white stripes are really honest, I think Jack&Meg are transparent they are the shit, what makes them the best is their originality in every aspect. I really respect them and I agree with someone’s comment up here, that is the show biz and we’ll know about them in the future with a insane coming back and realising a genius album. God bless them!Mxl♥

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