Jack White The Third Man

Jack White The Third Man
It's the day after Jack White has formally debuted his two new bands ― one all-female and one all-male ― at his Third Man Studio in Nashville and six weeks ahead of the release of his first solo album, Blunderbuss. There's definitely a sense of "mission accomplished" in the air. "Up until yesterday there was this lingering feeling that this might not work," he says, kicking back in his Third Man office. "Everybody could have said, 'Well, we like the girl band but we don't like the guy band, or so-and-so was better than so-and-so.' But it was completely balanced, and I consider that a total blessing because it could have been a disaster."

As someone who has spent the past 15 years restoring rock'n'roll's vitality through his work with the White Stripes, the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather, it begs several questions why White is choosing to go solo at this point. In the past year, he officially stated that the White Stripes will not reunite (even though he misses playing with Meg) and his marriage to second wife Karen Elson ended (albeit extremely amicably). But the answer is simply that as a consummate workaholic, White had time on his hands to make a new record and, as usually happens, a creative torrent was unleashed. "What it feels like is I've taken a deep breath and I'm saying, 'OK, here's me playing by the show biz rules right now,'" he says. "When you're in a big band and that's over, you're supposed to make a solo album. I resisted that for a long time, but now it's like I've finally let myself do this. A solo career was never an option before because I thought it was the easy way out."

1975 to 1995
John Anthony Gillis is born July 9, 1975 in Detroit, the youngest of ten children in a working class Catholic family. His family tree extends to Nova Scotia, and much later, he discovers that fiddle star Ashley MacIsaac is a distant cousin. Gillis's parents both have prominent positions in their parish, leading John to become an altar boy. He even appears as one in the 1987 Donald Sutherland film The Rosary Murders, shot at his century-old church. His religious devotion lands him an acceptance at a Wisconsin seminary, but he chooses instead to attend Cass Technical High School. Gillis had been given a drum kit at age 11, and unlike the majority of his fellow students, he prefers Led Zeppelin to Run-DMC. He begins investigating Zeppelin's Mississippi Delta blues ancestors, particularly Son House, who spent his later years in Detroit until his death in 1988. "[The saints] all had a different way to get to heaven," Jack would tell Exclaim! in 2007. "Their stories say a lot about humanity. It's about being torn between two things, from these little tiny battles over pleasing yourself or pleasing other people, to the huge battles between right and wrong. The bluesmen were just relating that division too. Each one probably had different reasons for doing it, but it all comes back to being torn and expressing it."

At 15, Gillis becomes an apprentice to family friend Brian Muldoon, who runs an upholstery business. Muldoon is also a drummer and turns Gillis on to punk rock, at the same time urging him to pick up the guitar so they can jam together. Sticking with this two-piece concept, they call themselves Two Part Resin, an upholstery term. Gillis takes his day job seriously, becoming familiar with the furniture of the De Stijl and Bauhaus schools of design. He later starts his own company, Third Man Upholstery, with the name borrowed from one of the films of his other primary artistic inspiration, Orson Welles. Gillis creates a distinctive black and yellow look for the company, and he often places hand-written poems inside the furniture before covers are sewn back on. Gillis continues to play with Muldoon ― they eventually record a seven-inch as the Upholsterers entitled Makers Of High Grade Suites, with one of its three songs an original, "Apple Of My Eye" ― but he lands his first real gig playing drums for alt-country band Goober & the Peas. He adopts the name Jack "Doc" Gillis, and draws attention when he's allowed to perform an Elvis Presley song during encores. He meets Meg White when the band play a bar in Royal Oak, Michigan called Memphis Smoke where she is bartending. The two 19-year-olds share similar interests in music, art and the burgeoning Detroit garage rock scene. They soon become inseparable.

1996 to 1998
John Gillis becomes Jack White when he marries Meg on Sept. 21, 1996 and takes her name. In early 1997 he forms a new band with Goober front-man Dan Miller called Two-Star Tabernacle, in which he plays lead guitar. They arrange their first (and only) recording session with local R&B legend Andre Williams on lead vocals. It yields a seven-inch featuring a cover of Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man," although the song Jack futilely pressures Andre to sing is one of his latest compositions, "The Big Three Killed My Baby." Not long after, White is working out David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream" at home when Meg unexpectedly gets behind the drum kit and joins in. Although she has never touched the drums before, Jack is amazed by her rhythmic instincts. He convinces the introverted Meg to form their own two-piece band ― a concept pioneered in the '80s by Athens, GA's Flat Duo Jets and Montreal's Deja Voodoo ― and they set about learning Jack's collection of original material, along with some well-chosen blues and country covers. They initially call the band the Red and White Stripes after Meg's fondness for peppermint candy, and base their entire visual image on those two colours, including Jack's choice of guitar, a rare red and white Airline model sold through Montgomery Ward department stores in the 1960s. The band's name is shortened to the White Stripes by the time of their first performance on July 14, 1997, an open mic night at Detroit club the Gold Dollar. Although extremely raw musically, the band's theatrical sense is already evident, with Jack decorating the stage with red and white items gathered through his upholstery business. The White Stripes quickly become the regular opening act for Two-Star Tabernacle and other Detroit garage-rock outfits, the Hentchmen and the Go, both of whom Jack briefly plays with as well. At the end of 1997, Jack and Meg accept an offer from Italy Records' Dave Buick to do a single. "Let's Shake Hands" b/w "Look Me Over Closely" is followed a few months later by "Lafayette Blues" b/w "Sugar Never Tasted So Good." The 1,000 copies of each don't immediately sell, but get positive reviews in garage rock journals across the country. The Hentchmen album, Hentch Forth.Five ― produced by Jack and featuring him on guitar and bass ― is released by Italy the same day as the second White Stripes single.

Copies of the White Stripes singles end up in the hands of Long Gone John, owner of established California garage rock label Sympathy For The Record Industry. He offers to do an LP, and the band opt to work with producer Jim Diamond, whose Ghetto Recorders is the hot new studio in Detroit. The eponymously titled album is laid down over the course of a week in January at a cost of $2,000. Most of its 17 tracks are under three minutes in length and include covers of Robert Johnson and Bob Dylan. Jack's intense determination to achieve his goals puts a tremendous strain on Meg, causing her to leave him almost immediately after the album is finished. While this effectively ends their marriage ― their divorce is finalized on March 24, 2000 ― Meg's newfound musical passion cannot be diminished. They reconcile in time to play a festival organized by Detroit alternative weekly Metro Times, and from then on Meg quietly takes on a more prominent role, forcing Jack to make the White Stripes his primary focus. "The White Stripes wouldn't have sounded like we did if there was a guy on drums," Jack says. "What Meg brought to the band is what made it what it is. I've never had any prejudice toward anybody, and I've probably worked with more women than guys. What I've noticed working with women is that a lot of bullshit goes out the window, and the focus is on accomplishing the task and getting down to something." Upon the release of The White Stripes on June 15, the pair make no mention to the press of their marriage, instead saying that they're brother and sister. They venture outside of Detroit for the first time that fall with a run of dates opening for Pavement and Sleater-Kinney. Playing for receptive crowds of several thousand each night confirms Jack's vision for the band, and by year's end he sets about producing their next album at his home studio.

De Stijl is released by Sympathy For The Record Industry almost exactly one year after The White Stripes. It presents an even more fascinating mix of artistic ideas, illustrated by its shared dedication to bluesman Blind Willie McTell and De Stijl designer Gerrit Rietveld. The movement's principles of using only basic shapes and primary colours perfectly reflects the White Stripes' elemental musical philosophy, combined with lyrics often rooted in childhood memories. Jack begins explaining in interviews that, similar to their visual style, they have chosen to place strict limitations on what they do sonically, the challenge being to see how far they can go within those limitations. "I never believed that it's been our job to become the Beatles," Jack would tell Exclaim! in 2007. "This band is the opposite of that ― we're an anti-evolving band. When we walk out on stage, we have no idea what we're going to do. We don't even know what the first song is going to be. If we ever became the kind of band that played along to a backing track, with a huge light show, and a set list that we've practiced for three months, we couldn't take any pride in that. It doesn't really become a dangerous proposition at that point." More folk and country influences appear on De Stijl, although the band's blistering take on Dolly Parton's "Jolene" ― a future live staple ― is relegated to the B-side of the "Hello Operator" single. A Canadian connection to the album comes to light in 2008 when Radio-Canada reporter Dominique Payette sues the band for using an unauthorized interview clip as the intro to the track "Jumble Jumble." The suit is later settled out of court.

With De Stijl receiving a glowing review in Rolling Stone, attention starts turning toward the Detroit garage rock scene. Sensing this, White's label commissions him in January to produce Sympathetic Sounds Of Detroit, a compilation featuring ― along with the White Stripes ― the Hentchmen, the Detroit Cobras, the Dirtbombs, the Von Bondies, Soledad Brothers and others, each recorded in White's attic with the same gear. The following month, the White Stripes head to Memphis to record their third album. The studio, Easley-McCain Recording, is chosen for its recent track record with Pavement, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and the unfinished sessions for Jeff Buckley's My Sweetheart The Drunk. Although a 24-track facility, Jack instructs the engineer that he wants the record done as fast as possible, and that a tense atmosphere should be maintained at all times. "We all have struggles we go through every day, no matter how 'nice' we think we have it," Jack says. "As a songwriter/creator/producer, when I don't have a struggle on a particular day, I will make one up. I want the musicians I play with to experience that kind of provocation, and I want the audience, both at a live show and listening to a record at home, to experience that as well." As with the previous albums, the total cost of making White Blood Cells is ridiculously low at $5,000. Yet, advance buzz for the album begins weeks before its June 26 release with profiles in Rolling Stone, and Entertainment Weekly. The British press goes on an even bigger feeding frenzy, declaring the White Stripes and the other American band of the moment, the Strokes, as the new arbiters of cool. The demand for White Blood Cells soon overwhelms Sympathy For The Record Industry, and the band sign multi-million dollar deals that fall with Richard Branson's V2 label and XL Recordings in the UK. A crucial stipulation for Jack is that he's allowed to have his own imprint, Third Man Records. "Hotel Yorba" is released as a single in November, backed with "Rated X," a song by Loretta Lynn, to whom White Blood Cells is dedicated.

Following an Australian tour in January, "Fell In Love With A Girl" is released as a single. The Lego-inspired video by Michel Gondry becomes an instant sensation, and marks the start of the director's long-time association with the band. Jack and Meg continue to receive universal praise, but they deliberately try to play down the hype when asked to perform at industry events like the MTV Movie Awards. At that particular show Jack comments to journalist Neil Strauss, "I don't know why we're doing this," which ignites a minor backlash, and he later gets into a brief online feud with Ryan Adams after disapproving of the latter's live interpretations of a few White Stripes songs. Jack does consent to Redd Kross's Steven McDonald overdubbing bass parts onto White Blood Cells MP3s and posting them under the title Redd Blood Cells. They are removed after 60,000 free downloads.

By April 2002, work is already underway for the next album, Elephant. The setting is Toe Rag Studios in London, UK, a small set-up run by Liam Watson whose band the Masonics had opened for the White Stripes at an earlier London date. Again, the band work efficiently, writing several of the album's 14 tracks during the two-week sessions, and spending only a single day on mixing. But with sales of White Blood Cells still climbing, Elephant's release is held off until April 2003. They pile up some high profile shows over the summer of 2002, including co-headlining the Reading and Leeds festivals with the Strokes, and being personally asked by the Rolling Stones to open a show at Toronto's Air Canada Centre. Following that, Jack heads to Transylvania for six weeks after being tapped by director Anthony Minghella for a minor role in the film Cold Mountain. White plays a Confederate deserter in the Civil War drama and is asked by soundtrack supervisor T-Bone Burnett to perform two folk standards, "Wayfaring Stranger" and "Sittin' On Top Of The World." Meg flies over when shooting wraps, and they perform an intimate show at the hotel where cast and crew have been staying. By this time, Jack and co-star Renee Zellweger are an item, and their budding romance becomes tabloid fodder back in the States. Housewives across America are suddenly asking, "Jack who?"

Plans to tour in the lead-up to Elephant's release are put on hold when Meg breaks a wrist after slipping on ice in March. That does nothing to dampen anticipation for the album, stoked even further by the instantly memorable single "Seven Nation Army." Everything about the album's packaging shows a raised level of artistry and symbolism, and the liner notes pull no punches in criticizing self-centred and disposable North American culture. Elephant hits the top of the UK album chart, and goes on to sell over two million copies in the U.S. and Canada combined. The White Stripes are able to complete a European tour in May and June, but on July 9, Jack and Renee are involved in a car accident in Detroit that leaves White with a broken finger. More dates are postponed until a scheduled Japanese tour in October, and to prove it was not just a case of "nervous exhaustion," White has the surgery to insert metal pins into his finger filmed and posted on YouTube. The Flaming Lips take over the White Stripes' headlining slot at Scotland's T In The Park Festival and do a tribute set, dressed in red and white. Rumours swirl that Jack will produce a new album for the recently reunited Detroit legends the Stooges after he does a photo shoot with Iggy Pop for Mojo, although they eventually opt to work with Steve Albini for 2007's The Weirdness. The White Stripes' profile stays high thanks to another unforgettable Michel Gondry video for "The Hardest Button To Button" that helps land Jack and Meg a guest appearance on The Simpsons. The year ends on a sour note though, when Jack is arrested after a confrontation with Von Bondies front-man Jason Stollsteimer at Detroit club the Magic Stick. The two had been in an ongoing dispute over Jack's production credit on the Von Bondies' 2001 album Lack Of Communication. Stollsteimer's position is that Jim Diamond deserved full credit, and at the time Diamond is also suing the White Stripes over what he claimed was uncredited work on De Stijl. Jack pleads guilty to an assault charge and agrees to take anger management classes on top of paying a $750 fine. In a statement outside the courthouse, he expresses regret but also says that he "was raised to believe that honour and integrity mean something and that those principles are worth defending."

The Elephant tour winds down with two shows in Blackpool, England that are filmed for the DVD Under Blackpool Lights. At a Bob Dylan show at Detroit's State Theatre on March 17, Dylan invites White on stage for the encore and they perform the White Stripes' song "Ball And Biscuit" together. Yet White's increasingly embattled image in his hometown prompts him to start looking to relocate his operations. Nashville becomes a potential option after Loretta Lynn accepts his offer to produce her next album. Van Lear Rose is completed over 12 days in a Nashville house with a band White assembles that includes long-time White associate Dan Miller, plus bassist Jack Lawrence and drummer Patrick Keeler of Cincinnati garage rockers the Greenhornes. The album receives rave reviews and earns two Grammys the following year for Best Country Album and Best Country Collaboration with Vocals ("Portland, Oregon"). It is reported at the end of the year that White and Zellweger are no longer seeing each other due to scheduling conflicts.

Jack and Meg reconvene at his Detroit studio in February to make Get Behind Me Satan. Jack's keyboard playing, and use of other unusual instruments such as marimba, dominates the sound for the first time. He only picks up his electric guitar at the end of the sessions when he writes what becomes the album's first single, the more typically pounding "Blue Orchid." Jack will tell Exclaim! in 2007, "I think there are a lot of things about us that are premeditated, so people naturally assume that we go in saying 'This is what the album's going to be called, this is the type of songs it's going to have.' We don't really do that. It wasn't until we started mixing down Satan that I said, 'Hey, there's not much guitar on this album.' It honestly didn't occur to me." Floria Sigismundi is hired to do the video for "Blue Orchid," bringing in British model Karen Elson to appear in it. Jack and Karen immediately connect, and are married June 1 in a shamanistic ceremony on the Amazon river. Meg serves as Karen's maid of honour. It occurs in the midst of the opening leg of the Get Behind Me Satan tour that sees the band playing Mexico and Central and South America for the first time. They later swing through Russia and Eastern Europe, part of Jack's desire to reach more of their fan base around the world. The Walking With A Ghost EP is released in December, featuring the Tegan & Sara-penned title track and two live recordings from the show in Manaus, Brazil on the day of Jack and Karen's wedding. By now, Jack has shifted focus to his new project, the Raconteurs, a band formed in the summer out of a jam session with Detroit singer/songwriter Brendan Benson and Greenhornes Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler. They compose a song called "Steady, As She Goes" on the spot, which soon leads to an album's worth of more psychedelic-tinged guitar pop recorded at Benson's home studio.

The Raconteurs' debut, Broken Boy Soldiers, is released March 7, just prior to their first British tour. More worldwide touring ensues, including a run of dates in the fall opening for Bob Dylan. During whatever downtime is available, White formally moves to Nashville where he and Elson buy a house ― their first child, a daughter named Scarlett, is born May 2 ― and he sets up Third Man Records. The building is in the city's industrial area, and serves all of White's creative needs. He begins inviting other artists to record seven-inch singles that are subsequently released on the Third Man label. In the coming years, those artists include rock legends Jerry Lee Lewis and Tom Jones, comedians Conan O'Brien and Stephen Colbert, and several with loose connections to White, such as Flat Duo Jets' Dex Romweber and divisive Detroit rappers Insane Clown Posse. "I think when you're raised in a house where there are 20 people running around like crazy all the time, it's not that much of a stretch to assume that's how I want my environment to be," Jack says. "I like when things are happening and when everyone has a reason to be involved. This is our family of musicians, and it was like that up in Detroit too when we had that whole garage rock scene." At the end of October, Jack is invited to appear with the Rolling Stones at two shows they perform at New York's Beacon Theater, filmed by Martin Scorsese. Shine A Light is released in 2008 and includes Jack's performance of "Loving Cup" with the band.

The White Stripes sign a new deal with Warner Music for sixth album Icky Thump, the title derived from common slang (akin to "holy cow") from the Manchester, UK region where Karen Elson was raised. Musically it's a return to guitar-driven rock, something Jack credits to the previous year playing with the Raconteurs. To coincide with Icky Thump's June release, the band announce that they will embark on a Canadian tour with dates in every province and territory, something that no band of their stature has ever done before. "Most bands wouldn't do a tour like this because they don't make any money from it," Jack tells Exclaim! at the time. "It's like when we kicked off our last album in South America, not too many people were happy about that from the business side of things. But that's what we needed to do. I mean, look how long it's taken us to get a full tour of Canada, when we grew up across the street." Prior to the opening date in Burnaby, BC, they play a surprise set to less than 50 kids at a youth centre in town. They repeat these surprise performances at every stop on the tour, turning up at a bowling alley in Saskatoon, on a city bus in Winnipeg, in a pool hall in Halifax, and in downtown St. John's, Newfoundland where they stun the crowd by playing just a single note. The focal point of the tour becomes the July 14 date in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, which marks the tenth anniversary of the first White Stripes gig. Ashley MacIsaac is asked to open, and the show is recorded for future release Under Nova Scotian Lights. Jack returns to Nashville in time for the birth of his second child, Henry Lee, on August 7, and the White Stripes return to the road a month later. However, the tour is abruptly halted on Sept. 11 due to what is described as Meg's acute anxiety problems, and the remaining dates, including a further UK trip, are cancelled. At year's end, Jack is seen portraying Elvis Presley in the John C. Reilly satire Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.

As Meg recovers, Jack re-joins the Raconteurs and they record their second album, Consolers Of The Lonely, in February. It's a more consistent effort than the debut, although sales in the UK vastly outnumber those in any other country. On Sept. 5, Jack is present at the Toronto International Film Festival for the world premiere of It Might Get Loud, a documentary instigated by Jimmy Page profiling three distinctly-styled guitarists: himself, Jack and U2's the Edge. Many of the film's most engaging scenes involve the trio talking amongst each other about specific techniques. "I think the common language among all these people I've been fortunate enough to work with is the blues," Jack told Exclaim! in 2007. "That's why we can carry on a conversation for more than 30 seconds. But I tried to shelter us from any of that 'white boy' criticism. The way [the White Stripes] presented ourselves aesthetically was sort of a shield to get away with playing the blues as white kids born in the '70s. I'm so fortunate that I have this band where I can play this music that's so close to my heart." Before leaving Toronto, White shoots a video for "Another Way To Die," which he wrote and recorded with Alicia Keys for the James Bond film Quantum Of Solace. It's the first-ever duet used for a James Bond theme. Soon after, at a Raconteurs gig in Memphis, Jack loses his voice and Alison Mosshart of opening act the Kills is asked to step in for the encores.

White invites Mosshart to Nashville in January to record with him, Raconteurs bassist Jack Lawrence and that group's first touring keyboardist Dean Fertita. White opts to play drums, having rediscovered his love of the instrument while recording "Another Way To Die." Within weeks, the Dead Weather, as they are christened, have written enough material for a full album. In the midst of recording, Jack and Meg appear for the last time as the White Stripes at the invitation of Conan O'Brien for his final NBC broadcast on Feb. 20. They perform "We're Going To Be Friends," with Meg on rhythm guitar and backing vocals. Jack is visibly emotional at its conclusion. The Dead Weather's Horehound is released July 14 following a few select showcases, including one at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern. A video for the album's first single, "Treat Me Like Your Mother," shows White and Mosshart firing automatic weapons at each other. It seems a tongue-in-cheek response to Britain's Sun tabloid reporting in May that the two had gotten into a drunken fistfight in New York. Mosshart vehemently denies any such incident took place, telling the NME that the story was completely fabricated. Emmett Malloy's White Stripes Canadian tour documentary, Under Great White Northern Lights, premieres at TIFF with Jack and Meg in attendance. It captures many of the tour's great spontaneous moments, but the lasting image is Jack's painfully intimate rendition of "White Moon" on piano that leaves Meg in tears. "Some people might have an experience in love that might hurt their feelings for a second, but they let it roll off their back and they move on," Jack says. "A lot of artists, we don't let things roll off our backs that easy. It absorbs into us and stays there forever. Lucky for me that I do hold onto these things. It's sometimes a feeling that happened 12 years ago." The film is released as a DVD the following March along with a CD of performances from the tour, and a book by tour photographer Autumn de Wilde.

The Dead Weather record a second album, Sea Of Cowards, released May 10. White says the title in part represents his opinion of how the anonymity of the internet is fostering a generation that doesn't take responsibility for what it says. The band supports the densely funky record with international touring throughout the spring and summer. Two weeks after Sea Of Cowards appears, Karen Elson's debut album, The Ghost Who Walks, is released. Produced by her husband, it features 13 darkly tinged folk-rock songs she says she kept hidden from Jack until she was ready to record. In November, White contributes lyrics and vocals to three songs on Danger Mouse's Rome project, a collaboration with Italian composer Daniele Luppi, released the following May.

Jack's collaboration with rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson, The Party Ain't Over, is released in January. As with the Loretta Lynn album, White relies on many trusted musical friends, including his brother Joe Gillis on keyboards. Bob Dylan suggests that they record one of his recent songs, "Thunder On The Mountain," and another standout track is Jackson's take on Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good." A few weeks later, Jack and Meg release a joint statement announcing that the White Stripes are officially over. "I think a lot of people are just too close-minded in terms of believing that Meg didn't bring a unique component to that band," Jack says by way of a partial explanation behind the belated press release. "I don't even want to battle those people's dumb misconceptions in any way. So that was one of the reasons why I wouldn't have done a solo album while the White Stripes existed. I'm not saying that in an insulting way, but when you're out there you realize that there's this show biz stuff going on where people perceive things in a certain way and you can't shake them out of it no matter how hard you try. People can say that they wish Meg was a part of it too ― that's actually flattering ― just as long as they don't say that this is the same thing as what the White Stripes were. That says to me that they think I'm mixed up for not knowing the difference." At SXSW, White unveils his latest invention, the Third Man Rolling Record Store, a customized truck with a built-in P.A. that can be used by DJs or bands. In June, White and Elson announce their split, although they decide to mark it with a "divorce party" for family and close friends at Third Man. In October, the Bob Dylan-helmed project, The Lost Notebooks Of Hank Williams, arrives featuring White's contribution, "You Know That I Know."

White signs a new deal with Sony, and announces the release of his first solo album, Blunderbuss. The first single, "Love Interruption," is released in February, and on March 3 he performs it on Saturday Night Live with his new all-female band, along with "Sixteen Saltines" with the all-male band. The following week he plays full sets with each band for the first time at a Third Man showcase. From then on he will use only one band at each show, informing them only that morning which one it will be. "This album naturally happened pretty much like everything else I've done," Jack says. "The Raconteurs just happened, the Dead Weather just happened. If you would have asked me a month before, 'Are you going to be starting a new band?' I would have said, 'Are you crazy? I have no time to do that.' It was the same thing with the Dead Weather, I had newborn kids, why would I start another band? It was hard enough to do what I wanted to do with the White Stripes, but the thing is, once something starts happening naturally, I don't get in the way of it, I let it happen. I wouldn't say that I choose to do it, like actually tried to make myself fit into a particular situation. Even with the White Stripes, it just happened."

The Essential Jack White

The White Stripes White Blood Cells (Sympathy For The Record Industry, 2001)
An era-defining record as much as Never Mind The Bollocks in terms of bringing rock'n'roll back to its core values. Most importantly, it offered something to everyone. The band's artistic ambitions may have been lofty, but their genius lay in never allowing their style to trump their substance.

The White Stripes Elephant (Third Man/V2, 2003)
Completely erased any lingering doubts that Jack and Meg were a novelty act. With riffs as immense as anything Jimmy Page ever conjured, Elephant pushed the band's self-imposed envelope about as far as it could go.

Jack White Blunderbuss (Third Man/Sony, 2012)
Sounding exactly like what a Jack White solo album should sound like, it deftly displays the musical evolution he has undergone since relocating to Nashville from Detroit five years ago. The bluesy, fuzzed-out riffs are still the foundation, yet a mature singer-songwriter is now firmly in control.