The White Stripes
The White Stripes reimagined minimalist garage and punk rock for a new generation and brought blues into the twenty-first century. They stripped down rock to its essentials and delivered the uninhibited freedom that only the best music can offer.
Guitarist Jack White (born John Gillis) and drummer Meg White formed the White Stripes in Detroit in 1997. After releasing three blues-inspired albums on the independent label Sympathy for the Record Industry, the duo broke into the mainstream with a 2002 major label re-release of White Blood Cells. They promptly followed up that album with their first proper major label debut Elephant (2003). After two more albums – the piano-driven Get Behind Me Satan (2005) and their highest-charting Icky Thump (2007) – the band embarked on a Canadian tour, as featured in the acclaimed documentary Under Great White Northern Lights. In 2007, Meg bravely revealed her struggles with acute anxiety that led to a tour cancelation. The White Stripes performed for the last time on the final episode of Late Night With Conan O’Brien before officially dissolving in 2011.
Red, white, and black saturate the White Stripes’ visual aesthetic. With the help of director Michel Gondry, their innovative music videos experiment with shifts in perspective (“The Denial Twist”) and the deconstruction of basic elements (“Fell in Love With a Girl”). Their musical style layers the rawness of garage rock and the piercing energy of punk over a blues foundation. Songs like “Seven Nation Army” feature a trio of sounds – often vocals, guitar, and drums. Jack’s voice whines and screeches out unapologetic lyrics laced with raw production effects. His heavy guitar riffs ground the harmonic structure while his tasteful solo work fleshes out the overall texture. Meg maximizes the cymbals’ power to accent rather than to keep steady time, giving her minimalist beats a signature swagger.
Jack White told Rolling Stone magazine, “The whole point of the White Stripes is the liberation of limiting yourself,” and a new generation is listening – from rock duos Royal Blood and Deap Vally to bassist Karina Rykman to rapper Danny Brown.
“The Big Three Killed My Baby,” The White Stripes (1999) • “Death Letter,” De Stijl (2000) • “Ashtray Heart” (2000) • “Fell in Love With a Girl,” “We’re Going to Be Friends,” White Blood Cells (2001) • “Seven Nation Army,” “Ball and Biscuit,” “The Hardest Button to Button,” Elephant (2003) • “My Doorbell,” Get Behind Me Satan (2005) • “Icky Thump,” Icky Thump (2007)
Nominees: Jack White, Meg White
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