The White Stripes Retire

It’s All Over Now

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

What does it mean when your favorite band that was actually alive and touring during your life calls it quits?

“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.”

That was what it read on Jack White’s Third Man Records website on the day the music died.

I got to see The White Stripes play live only once in my life. There should have been two other times, but the only hope now is that Jack White goes solo. The first time I was supposed to see them play was back in 2004 when they performed in Saint Paul, but I had seen The Doors (of 21st Century) the previous weekend and was out of money.

The White Stripes returned to Minnesota in 2005 and I saw them play from the 7th row at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis. It was life changing seeing them perform live and to be so close. The attraction between Jack and Meg White, who plays drums, was really interesting. Meg was very sexy in person, and Jack was moving about the stage playing all sorts of instruments. They connected on stage in a way that I never realized through their music.

There was The Raconteurs show at First Avenue in 2006, days before my wedding, and then again in 2008 at Lollapalooza in Chicago, IL. During that period there wasn’t a chance of getting close to that band live; in Chicago the Jumbotron was a better view than trying to see the tiny people on the stage.

Between the years 2006 and 2008 and those Raconteurs tours there was a time when I was supposed to see The White Stripes again. In 2007 The White Stripes touredCanada and then were scheduled to come to Fargo and a few other cities in the USwhile promoting their new “Icky Thump” Cd. They played in Thunder Bay, but the show was sold out. My wife and I discussed going up there and trying to get in or buy tickets there, but it seemed awfully risky when Fargo was added to the tour schedule. After the Thunder Bay show tickets were supposed to go on sale for Fargo, but when the date came for pre-sale the tickets never posted. It was announced soon after that the band was cancelling the tour due to Meg having an anxiety disorder.

That decision not to go to Thunder Bayreally sucks now in retrospect, especially if White never performs those great songs from earlier in his career again. You can see the Canadian tour on DVD in the film “Under Great White Northern Lights.”

This is what was posted next about the band on the Third Man site:

“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. “

Meg White married Jackson Smith, the son of Patti Smith and MC5’s Fred Smith in 2009. Jack White got married on June 1, 2005 to British model Karen Elson and has two kids. White’s wife recently released a solo album while he has been producing sultry throwback Wanda Jackson’s new CD.

At least there are still hidden ditties out there from the Stripes.

“Third Man Records will continue to put out unreleased live and studio recordings from The White Stripes in their Vault Subscription record club,” the site said. “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.”

You can support their artistic privacy, but it is sad because the band wasn’t really known to most people until about 2003-2004, and then to be done touring in 2007 makes for only about three to four years of being in the spotlight. People always were hung up on their colors, whether Jack and Meg were really brother and sister, or people would talk about how Meg sucked on drums. The truth was Jack Gillis married Meg White in 1996 and he took her name. They later divorced toward the end of the nineties, but he kept the last name. From someone who saw them live and up close I say there is no other drummer that ever held my attention like Meg did. Jack directed her on stage with the use of backwards glances in mirrors and quick hand gestures, but they connected in a way I have never seen before in a band. When those two get together on stage, the psychological connection is evident.

The band itself wrote on their site:

“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

In 2009 The Raconteurs finished their tour and a new band with Jack White released an album. It began as a Raconteurs jam with band members Dean Fertita (also of Queens of the Stone Age) on keys and guitar, Jack Lawrence (also of The Greenhornes) on bass, and Allison Mosshart of The Kills on vocals. White moved to the drums to fill in and The Dead Weather emerged from that jam session. Mosshart met the guys when her band The Kills opened for The Raconteurs, but at one point when White lost his voice she filled in on vocals for his band.

Horehound, their first album was rough. Seeing them live was dangerous and vicious. It was also cool when White came out and played guitar for “Will There Be Enough Water”, but it was never enough.

After a show in 2009 when The Dead Weather played at the Ogden Theatre in DenverI spoke with some young 17 year old fans. They said that they had been fans of The White Stripes since they were little kids and were hoping they could see them play live one day. It is those kids that I feel sorry for, but is it fair to just stop performing and then retire four years after your last tour?

When The Dead Weather played at First Avenue last summer I met Jack White, but I was too nervous to ask about The White Stripes. I was a bit more brave while speaking to his manager Lalo, but he made me shut off my recorder when I asked him if there would be new White Stripes shows ever. He gave me a maybe off the record.

As the 2000’s close, so do The White Stripes. Every album by the band was filled with excellent tunes and these were the only Cds made in the new millennium that I could play all the way through and love every song. Sure The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather Cds were excellent, but they never achieved the status and genuine love of a Stripes album. “Seven Nation Army” is an amazing song. “Hotel Yorba” is so original and catchy, and was recently voted the best song of the decade- according to the Brits, at least. In Europe they are revered; Jack White was voted the best musician of the decade, and several White Stripes’ albums were included in the list of the top 10 albums of the decade. Let’s hope the States will eventually realize what they missed; sometimes when greatness is too close, you cannot see it.

“Little Ghost”, “Apple Blossom”, “Icky Thump”, just too much greatness. Godheads.

There should be a verse added to “American Pie” just to commemorate this event: “The day the White Stripes died.”