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The White Stripes were an American rock duo formed in 1997 in Detroit, Michigan. The group consisted of Jack White who learnt many of his guitar skills from blues guitar lessons video type courses. His skills include (songwriter, vocals, guitar, piano, and mandolin) and Meg White (drums and vocals). After releasing several singles and three albums within the Detroit music scene, The White Stripes rose to prominence in 2002, as part of the garage rock revival scene. Their successful and critically acclaimed albums White Blood Cells and Elephant drew attention from a large variety of media outlets in the United States and the United Kingdom, with the single “Seven Nation Army” and its guitar line becoming their signature song. The band recorded two more albums, Get Behind Me Satan in 2005 and Icky Thump in 2007, and dissolved in 2011 after a lengthy hiatus from performing and recording.

The White Stripes used a low-fidelity approach to writing and recording. Their music featured a melding of garage rock and blues influences and a raw simplicity of composition, arrangement, and performance. The duo were also noted for their fashion and design aesthetic which featured a simple color scheme of red, white, and black—which was used on every album and single cover the band released—as well as the band’s fascination with the number three. The band’s discography consists of six studio albums, one live album, two extended plays (EP), one concert film, one tour documentary, 26 singles, and 14 music videos. Their last three albums each won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album.

 

Blues guitar lessons video

Early history

As a senior in high school, Jack Gillis (as he was then known), met Meg White at the Memphis Smoke—the restaurant where she worked and where he would read his poetry at “open mic” nights. The two became friends, and began to frequent the coffee shops, local music venues, and record stores of the area. By this time, Gillis was already playing drums with musician friends, including his upholstery apprenticeship mentors, Brian Muldoon and Justin Stockton. In 1994, he got his first professional job as the drummer for the Detroit cowpunk band Goober & the Peas.

After a courtship, Gillis and White got married on September 21, 1996; contrary to convention, he took his wife’s surname. Shortly after, Goober and the Peas broke up, but Jack continued to play in other bands, such as the garage punk band The Go (he played lead guitar on their 1999 album Whatcha Doin’), The Hentchmen, and Two-Star Tabernacle. In 1997—allegedly on Bastille Day—Meg first began to learn to play the drums. In Jack’s words, “When she started to play drums with me, just on a lark, it felt liberating and refreshing. There was something in it that opened me up.” The couple then became a band and, while they considered calling themselves “Bazooka” and “Soda Powder”, they settled on the name “The White Stripes”. Jack explained the band name’s origin this way:

Meg loves peppermints, and we were going to call ourselves The Peppermints. But since our last name was White, we decided to call it “The White Stripes”. It revolved around this childish idea, the ideas kids have—because they are so much better than adult ideas, right?”

From the beginning, they established certain motifs: publicly presenting themselves as brother and sister, outfitting their production in only black, red, and white, and heavily using the number “three”. White has explained that they used these colors to distract from the fact that they were young, white musicians playing “black music”. They were also noted for their lack of a bass player, and their general refusal to be interviewed separately.

The White Stripes had their first live performance on August 14, 1997, at the Gold Dollar bar in Detroit. They began their career as part of the Michigan underground garage rock scene, playing with local bands such as The Hentchmen, The Dirtbombs, The Gories, and Rocket 455. In 1998, Dave Buick—owner of an independent, Detroit-based, garage-punk label called Italy Records—approached the band at a bar and asked if they would like to record a single. Jack initially declined, believing it would be too expensive, but he eventually reconsidered when he realized that Buick was offering to pay for it. Their debut single, “Let’s Shake Hands,” was released on vinyl in February 1998 with an initial pressing of 1,000 copies. This was followed in October 1998 by the single “Lafayette Blues” which, again, was only released on vinyl with 1,000 copies. In 1999, The White Stripes signed with the California-based label Sympathy for the Record Industry. In March 1999, they released the single “The Big Three Killed My Baby”, followed by their debut album, The White Stripes, which was released on June 15, 1999.

The self-titled debut was produced by Jack and engineered by Jim Diamond at his Ghetto Recorders studio in Detroit. The album was dedicated to the seminal Mississippi Delta blues musician, Son House—an artist who greatly influenced Jack. The track “Cannon” from The White Stripes contains part of an a cappella version, as performed by House, of the traditional American gospel blues song “John the Revelator”. The White Stripes also covered House’s song “Death Letter” on their follow-up album De Stijl.

Looking back on their debut during a 2003 interview with Guitar Player, Jack said, “I still feel we’ve never topped our first album. It’s the most raw, the most powerful, and the most Detroit-sounding record we’ve made.”

Allmusic said of the album:

Jack White’s voice is a singular, evocative combination of punk, metal, blues, and backwoods while his guitar work is grand and banging with just enough lyrical touches of slide and subtle solo work… Meg White balances out the fretwork and the fretting with methodical, spare, and booming cymbal, bass drum, and snare… All D.I.Y. punk-country-blues-metal singer-songwriting duos should sound this good.

At the end of 1999, The White Stripes released “Hand Springs” as a 7″ split single with fellow Detroit band The Dirtbombs on the B-side. 2,000 copies came free with the pinball fanzine Multiball. The record is currently—like the majority of vinyl records by The White Stripes—out of print and difficult to find.

The White Stripes’ second album, De Stijl (Dutch for “The Style”), was released on the Sympathy for the Record Industry label on June 20, 2000. Considered a cult classic and self-recorded on an 8-track analog tape in Jack’s living room, De Stijl displays the simplicity of the band’s blues and “scuzzy garage rock” fusion prior to their breakthrough success.

The album title derives from the Dutch art movement of the same name; common elements of the De Stijl aesthetic are demonstrated on the album cover, which sets the band members against an abstract background of rectangles and lines in red, black and white. The White Stripes have cited the minimalist and deconstructionist aspects of De Stijl design as a source of inspiration for their own musical image and presentation. The album was dedicated to furniture designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld of the De Stijl movement, as well as to the influential Georgia bluesman Blind Willie McTell.

Party of Special Things to Do was released as a 7″ on Sub-Pop in December 2000. It comprised three songs originally performed by Captain Beefheart, an experimental blues rock musician.

De Stijl eventually reached number 38 on Billboard Magazine’s Independent Albums chart in 2002, around the time The White Stripes’ popularity began establishing itself. One New York Times critic at the time said that the Stripes typified “what many hip rock fans consider real music.” The song “Why Can’t You Be Nicer To Me” was used in The Simpsons episode “Judge Me Tender”

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