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Jack White (occasionally Jack III White or Jack White III), born John Anthony Gillis on July 9, 1975 in Detroit, Michigan is a Grammy-winning rock musician, singer, and music producer. He started as a part-time musician working with various underground bands in Detroit, while working by day as an upholsterer. He is best known as the guitarist and lead vocalist of the rock duo The White Stripes. His popular and critical success with the Stripes enabled him to collaborate with other renowned artists, such as Loretta Lynn, Bob Dylan[1], Lou Reed[2], Pete Townshend, and Billy Gibbons[3]. He is also one of the members of the rock band The Raconteurs. He was ranked #17 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time."

Early lifeEdit

Jack White is the youngest of ten siblings born to Gorman and Teresa Bandyk Gillis.Template:Cref His father and mother worked for the Archdiocese of Detroit,[4] as the maintenance man and the Cardinal's secretary, respectively. Jack, like his six brothers, eventually became an altar boy, which landed him a small role in the movie The Rosary Murders, filmed mainly at Holy Redeemer parish in southwest Detroit.[5] At five he taught himself how to play the drums, and as a child was a fan of classical music.[6] Although White grew up in Mexicantown, the lower-middle-class Mexican district of southwest Detroit, his musical preferences were not those of his classmates, who listened to electronica and hip hop. White, as a teenager, was already listening to the blues and 1960s rock that would influence him in the White Stripes,[5] Son House and Blind Willie McTell being among his favorite blues musicians.[7]

File:Jack White on 60 minutes.jpg
In 2005 on 60 Minutes, White 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,'" White said. "I had just gotten a new amplifier in my bedroom, and I didn’t think I was allowed to take it with me." [8] It would turn out to be a life-defining decision.

At fifteen, White began a three-year upholstery apprenticeship with a family friend, Brian Muldoon. After working in various shops, he started a one-man business of his own, called Third Man Upholstery. 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. While Third Man Upholstery never lacked business, White claims that it was not profitable, 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.[9]


White's initial professional music experience came in the early 1990s as a drummer for the Detroit country-punk band Goober and the Peas. This led to stints with various other bands such as The Go and 2-Star Tabernacle. Also, in addition to being his mentor and neighbor, Muldoon would play drums with White in late night jam sessions; informally, they called themselves Two Part Resin, although their posthumous debut single on Sympathy for the Record Industry from 2000 is credited to The Upholsterers.[10]

Jack met Meg White in 1994, and they were married on September 21, 1996. In unorthodox fashion, Jack took Meg's surname. In July of 1997, the White Stripes made their first live appearance at the Gold Dollar in Detroit. In keeping live performances to three elements, Jack fulfilled guitar and vocal duties while Meg played drums.[5] They divorced in 2000 before becoming nationally famous. Nevertheless, Jack and Meg claim to be siblings and always refer to each other as so.

Starting out as an underground favorite in Detroit and other circles, the White Stripes recorded two albums for an independent label (both featured the blues rock with raw production values and red, white and black cover art that were to become the band's trademarks) and came to international attention when, in 2001, British DJ John Peel raved of the band on his radio show.[11] The buzz turned the White Stripes into a sensation in Britain, and the enthusiasm soon crossed over back to the United States. The 2001 single "Fell in Love with a Girl" became an alternative hit, and the band's third album and major label debut, White Blood Cells, was seen as leading the trend for garage rock in the early 2000s, earning comparisons to The Strokes. By 2003, the White Stripes had become one of the nation's most popular guitar rock groups with their fourth album, Elephant, winning Grammy Awards (including for the single "Seven Nation Army") and appearing on end of year lists. In a 2003 special issue, Rolling Stone named White the 17th greatest guitarist of all time.[12] The White Stripes' 2005 album Get Behind Me Satan saw White playing less guitar, concentrating on piano, marimba and other instruments, but achieved the band's highest debut on the Billboard 200 chart, at number 3.

The critical and popular success of the White Stripes opened up new opportunities for White. In 2003, he was well-received in the role of Georgia in the feature film Cold Mountain. He also performed several songs for the film's soundtrack (produced by T Bone Burnett) in a traditional acoustic style.[13] Later in that same year, he appeared with Meg in one of the shorts comprising Jim Jarmusch's film Coffee and Cigarettes. Meanwhile, White produced Loretta Lynn's 2004 album Van Lear Rose, singing with her on the duet "Portland, Oregon." The album was released in April 2004 to massive critical acclaim, and earned five Grammy Awards nominations, going on to win both Best Country Album and Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for the duet.

In 2005, White recorded and produced the first 45 record for his former teacher Brian Muldoon's family project, The Muldoons. Muldoon's two sons, Hunter and Shane, front the trio.

In 2006, White toured following the release of The Raconteurs' (or the Saboteurs, as they are legally known in Australia) debut album Broken Boy Soldiers. Jack and Meg made a cameo appearance on the September 17, 2006 episode of The Simpsons in which Homer and Marge buy a drum kit for Bart and he becomes a jazz drummer, making Lisa jealous.

In 2007 White recorded the sixth White Stripes album, Icky Thump in addition to recording several tracks for the untitled sophomore Raconteurs album. A tour to support Icky Thump extends into October of 2007.[14] The new album marks the first time he will be releasing material on Major recording label, Warner Bros. Records, since his previous distributor V2 Records closed its doors.

White is to work with Garbage vocalist Shirley Manson on a number of tracks for her debut solo album.[15] On March 28, Cinemablend, as well as several news organizations reported White will appear in a cameo, as Elvis Presley, in John C. Reilly’s music biopic parody movie Walk Hard[16].

Musical equipment and soundEdit

Jack White uses a number of effects to create his powerful live sound, most notably a Digitech whammy pedal to create the rapid modulations in pitch he uses in his solos.[17] The guitars he uses live are two 1964 JB Hutto Montgomery Airlines, a Harmony Rocket, a 1970s-era Crestwood Astral II, and a 1950s-era Kay Hollowbody. When playing with the Raconteurs, White usually plays a custom Gretsch Triple Jet guitar. In concert with an MXR Micro-Amp and Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi Distortion/Sustainer, White can produce a very distinctive sound. In 2005, for the single "Blue Orchid", White employed the use of a new Electro-Harmonix creation, the Polyphonic Octave Generator (POG). Similar to (but more versatile than) the Whammy pedal, the POG lets the user mix in several octave effects into one along with the dry signal. He plugs this setup into a 1970s Fender Twin Reverb and two 100-Watt Sears Silvertone 6x10 combo amplifiers.[18]

White also produces a "fake" bass tone by playing the Kay Hollowbody and JB Hutto Montgomery Airline guitars through a Digitech Whammy pedal 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".[17][19]

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), electric piano on such tracks as "The Air Near My Fingers" and "I'm Finding it Harder to be a Gentleman" in which he used a Rhodes Mark II stage piano. White also plays percussion instruments such as the marimba (as on "The Nurse"), drums, tambourine and ney. On 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.

White plays his barre and power chords with a different technique than most musicians. Instead of using his ring finger to fret the higher notes, Jack uses his pinky. This is because of a car accident in which his left index finger was injured and also the fact that his brothers (also musicians) would never teach him the proper way to do so, which he explains in an appearance with the Raconteurs on the show In the Attic.

Personal lifeEdit

White is known for his eccentric behavior, hobbies, and passions. He is, for instance, interested in taxidermy, an interest that sprung from his days in upholstering. White also has an obsession with the number three and all that it represents.

As one of the White Stripes, White has also created some sensation on and off the stage. The band (when on official duty) dresses only in red, white, and black, which Jack believes are the three most powerful colors in the universe. Arguably, the greatest topic of intrigue has been the actual relationship between Jack and Meg. In early interviews, the pair presented themselves as siblings, two of ten. However, the Detroit Free Press famously produced copies of not only their marriage licence, but divorce certificate, confirming their history as a married couple. Neither addresses the truth officially; however, over time, they have become less vocal about the origins of their relationship. Jack White has said, though, that siblings are "mated for life," and thus such relationships distract less from the music.[5]

White had a brief but highly publicized romantic relationship with actress Renée Zellweger, whom he met during the filming of Cold Mountain in 2003. White and Zellweger's breakup became public in December 2004.[20]

White unexpectedly married model Karen Elson (who appeared in the music video for the White Stripes song "Blue Orchid" directed by Floria Sigismondi) on June 1, 2005 in Manaus, Brazil, with manager Ian Montone as best man and Meg White as the maid of honor. Official wedding announcements stated that it was the first marriage for both.[21] On May 2, 2006, the couple had a daughter, named Scarlett Teresa White.[22] In 2006, it was revealed in the Sunday Times Rich List that White and Elson had a joint fortune of at least £20 million GBP (US$37 million). This ranked them at seventh place in the list of entertainers aged under 30 who were born or live in the United Kingdom, ahead of the likes of Orlando Bloom and Kate Winslet.[23]Template:Cref They are currently expecting their second child[1]

White gives few interviews and reveals few details of his private life. He states that he does not consider it 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." [24]

White resides in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and child.[25]

Selected eventsEdit

It is rumored in 2003 that White was featured on Electric Six's song "Danger! High Voltage."[26] Initially both he and the Electric Six denied this, and the vocal work was credited officially to the unknown John S O'Leary.[27] However, a recent radio interview with Tim Shaw on Kerrang! 105.2 in the UK had Electric Six lead singer Dick Valentine talking openly about White singing on this song as well as speculating on the amount of money he was paid ($60,000).

White was the subject of The Flaming Lips's song Thank You Jack White (For The Fiber-Optic Jesus That You Gave Me) released on their 2003 Fight Test EP.

File:Jack White - mug shot.jpg
On December 13, 2003, White was involved in an altercation at The Magic Stick, a Detroit club, with Jason Stollsteimer, lead singer of the Von Bondies. He was charged with misdemeanor aggravated assault. He pleaded guilty, was fined $500 plus court costs, and was sentenced to take anger management courses.[28]

White played bass on the song "Go It Alone" from the Beck album Guero. Beck, a friend of White's, appeared in the White Stripes video for "The Hardest Button to Button."

White made a surprise appearance with Bob Dylan during Dylan's performance in Detroit on March 17, 2004 during the second encore, performing the White Stripes song "Ball and Biscuit."

White has referred to The Stooges' 1970 album Fun House as "the greatest rock 'n' roll record ever made."[29] As a result, he was invited by Rhino Records to contribute liner notes to the 2005 deluxe reissue of the album.

On November 7, 2005, it was widely reported that Jack White had changed his name to "Three Quid" (quid is British slang for pound sterling). However, most reports (e.g.,[30],[31] and[32]) indicated that this would only last until the end of the tour. When asked about this in a UK radio interview, he claimed that "it's all a money's all about money."

In April 2006, a long-rumored and extremely low-profile Coca-Cola commercial debuted during the MTV Australia Video Music Awards, featuring the original song "Love is the Truth" that White wrote exclusively for Coke.[33] Regarding the situation, White stated, "I've been offered the opportunity to write a song in a way which interests me as a songwriter. I certainly wouldn't want a song that I'd already written to be used on a commercial. That seems strange."[34] However, according to, the ad was only played once in the UK, late at night on Channel 4, and was available for only a short time at the Coke website.

Solo discographyEdit

  • "Wayfaring Stranger", "Great High Mountain", "Sittin' on Top of the World", "Christmas Time Will Soon Be Over" and "Never Far Away" – Cold Mountain (2003)
  • "Van Lear Rose", "Portland, Oregon", "Have Mercy", "High On A Mountain Top", "Little Red Shoes", "Women's Prison", "This Old House" and "Miss Being Mrs." – (with Loretta Lynn) Van Lear Rose (2004)


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External linksEdit


Template:TnavbarThe White Stripes
Jack White | Meg White
Albums and EPs: The White Stripes | De Stijl | White Blood Cells | Elephant | Get Behind Me Satan | Walking with a Ghost | Icky Thump
Singles: "Let's Shake Hands" | "Lafayette Blues" | "The Big Three Killed My Baby" | "Hand Springs" | "Hello Operator" | "Lord, Send Me an Angel" | "Party of Special Things to Do" | "Hotel Yorba" | "Fell in Love with a Girl" | "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" | "We're Going to Be Friends" |
"Red Death at 6:14" | "Candy Cane Children" | "Seven Nation Army" | "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself" | "The Hardest Button to Button" | "There's No Home for You Here" | "Jolene (Live Under Blackpool Lights)" | "Blue Orchid" | "My Doorbell" | "The Denial Twist" | "Icky Thump" | "Rag and Bone"
DVDs: Candy Coloured Blues (unofficial) | Under Blackpool Lights
Other projects: Aluminium
Related articles
Sympathy for the Record Industry | Third Man Records | Ian Montone | Triple Inchophone | The Upholsterers | The Go | The Raconteurs
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