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Meg White

Meg White
Meg White performing c. 2002
Background information
Birth name Megan Martha White
Born (1974-12-10) December 10, 1974 Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan
Origin Detroit, Michigan, United States
Genres Alternative rock, garage rock, blues rock, punk blues
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Drums, percussion, vocals, keyboards, guitar
Years active 1997–2011
Labels Warner Bros., V2, Third Man, Sub Pop, Sympathy for the Record Industry, XL, Italy
Associated acts The White Stripes, Jack White

Megan Martha "Meg" White (born December 10, 1974) is an American drummer from Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan best known for her work with Jack White in the Detroit rock duo The White Stripes. On an impulse, she played on Jack's drums (to whom she was married at the time) in 1997. The two decided to form a band and began performing two months later, calling themselves The White Stripes because of their last name and Meg's preference for peppermint candy. The band quickly became a Detroit underground favorite, before reaching national, then international fame. White has been nominated for various awards as a part of the group, and has won several, including four Grammy Awards.

Her drumming style has been called "primal" for its simplicity, and drew both praise and criticism from fans and critics. Jack has been a vocal advocate for her playing, calling her critics "sexist." Her musical influences are wide and varied, with Bob Dylan being her favorite artist.

By her own admission, Meg is "very shy,"[1] and has kept a very low public profile. Though publicly insisting they were siblings, public records emerged in 2001 that indicated that she and Jack were married in 1996, prior to the band's formation; they divorced in 2000, before The White Stripes ascended to international fame. In 2009, she married guitarist Jackson Smith—son of musicians Patti Smith and Fred "Sonic" Smith—but they divorced in 2013.

While on tour in support for The White Stripes' sixth studio album, Icky Thump, she suffered a bout of acute anxiety, and the remaining dates of the tour were cancelled. After a few public appearances, and a hiatus from recording, The White Stripes announced in February 2011 that they would be disbanding. White has not been active in the music industry since.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • The White Stripes 2.1
    • Other work 2.2
  • Personal life 3
  • Equipment 4
  • Awards and nominations 5
    • American Music Awards 5.1
    • Brit Awards 5.2
    • Grammy Awards 5.3
    • Kerrang! Awards 5.4
    • MTV Europe Music Awards 5.5
    • MTV Video Music Awards 5.6
    • NME Awards USA 5.7
    • Q Awards 5.8
    • Shockwaves NME Awards 5.9
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Megan Martha White was born in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan on December 10, 1974 to Walter Hackett White, Jr. and Catherine White.[1] She grew up in the affluent[2] Detroit suburb with her parents and older sister, Heather.[1] She attended Grosse Pointe North High School and, according to one classmate, was "always the quiet, obviously artistic type, and she just kept very much to herself."[1] While still in high school, she decided not to go to college and instead began to work at Memphis Smoke, a restaurant in downtown Royal Oak, with aspirations of becoming a chef.[1][3] It's there that she first met budding musician John "Jack" Gillis, a fellow high school senior from a Detroit neighborhood known as Mexicantown,[1][3] and they frequented the coffee shops, local music venues, and record stores of the area.[4] They began dating and were eventually married on September 21, 1996.[5][6] Gillis took her last name.[7]


The White Stripes

Throughout the 1990s, Jack worked as an upholsterer, but continued to moonlight in several bands, usually as a drummer.[8] According to them, on Bastille Day of 1997, Meg first tried playing on Jack's drumkit.[9] 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."[7] The two then began calling themselves The White Stripes (because Meg favored peppermint candies) and soon played their first gig at the Gold Dollar in Detroit.[10] In keeping live performances to three basic elements, Jack did the guitar and vocal work while she played drums.[7]

Jack and Meg presented themselves as siblings to an unknowing public,[11][9] and keeping to a chromatic theme, dressed only in red, white, and black.[12][13] They begin their career as part of Michigan's underground, garage rock music scene.[12][3][14] They played along with and opened for more established local bands such as Bantam Rooster, the Dirtbombs, Two Star Tabernacle, Rocket 455, and the Hentchmen, among others.[8][3] In 1998, the band signed with Italy Records, a small and independent Detroit-based garage punk label of Dave Buick.[15] The band released its self-titled debut album in 1999, and a year later the album was followed up by the cult classic,[16] De Stijl. The album eventually peaked at number 38 in Billboard's Independent Albums chart. Even as their success as a band was mounting, their personal relationship was faltering, and they were divorced in 2000.[17]

As the White Stripes fame spread beyond Detroit, the unconventional band with no bass player and a novice drummer began to be the subject of mixed commentary among critics and fans.[18] Of a 2002 concert in Cleveland, Ohio, Chuck Klosterman said, "[Meg] never grimaced and didn't appear to sweat; yet somehow her drums sounded like a herd of Clydesdales falling out of the sky, one after another. Clearly this is a band at the apex of its power."[19] The Australian called her drumming "simplistic but occasionally explosive,"[20] and UK periodical, The Times said that she "reduced the art of drumming to its primary components, bashing the snare and cymbal together on alternating beats with the bass drum in a way that recalled Moe Tucker of the Velvet Underground.[21] On the other hand, The Associated Press called her playing "maddeningly rudimentary."[22] The satirical news site The Onion once featured the headline "Meg White Drum Solo Maintains Steady Beat For 23 Minutes".[23] In reference to her "primal" approach to drumming,[8] she remarked, "That is my strength. A lot of drummers would feel weird about being that simplistic."[7] For his part, Jack has declared her drumming to be the "best part of this band,"[7] and called her a "strong female presence in rock and roll."[24] He called her detractors 'sexist'.[7]

White singing lead vocals on the song "In the Cold, Cold Night. She also performs the percussion on the studio version of the song.

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Meg White (right) after a performance in Sydney, 2006.

Though Jack usually sang lead vocals, Meg occasionally sang as well, the first time being backup on the record "Your Southern Can is Mine" from De Stijl. She sang lead on four Stripes' songs: "In the Cold, Cold Night", from the album Elephant, "Passive Manipulation" from Get Behind Me Satan, "Who's a Big Baby", the B-side to "Blue Orchid," and "St. Andrew (This Battle Is in the Air)" from Icky Thump. She also sang the popular Christmas song "Silent Night" on the single Candy Cane Children. Both Meg and Jack share vocal duties on the tracks "Hotel Yorba" and "This Protector" from White Blood Cells, "Rated X" from the "Hotel Yorba" single, "Well It's True That We Love One Another" on Elephant, and "Rag and Bone" from Icky Thump. Andrew Katchen with Billboard magazine called her vocals "delicate and sweet."[25]

In the summer of 2007, before a show in Southaven, Mississippi, Ben Blackwell (Jack's nephew and the group's archivist) says that Meg approached him and said, "This is the last White Stripes show." He asked if she meant of the tour, but she responded, "No. I think this is the last show, period."[26] On September 11, 2007, the White Stripes announced via their website that they were canceling 18 tour dates due to Meg's acute anxiety.[27] The following day, the duo cancelled the remainder of their 2007 UK tour dates as well.[28]

Meg White, with Jack, performing "We Are Going to Be Friends" on the final episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien. At O'Brien's request, the band came out of hiatus to perform. It was notable because she was not playing a percussion instrument. It would also prove to be the band's final live performance.

White worked with other artists in the meantime, but Meg remained largely out of the public eye, though in June 2008, she appeared briefly onstage during an encore set of a Detroit show with one of Jack's bands, the Raconteurs.[29] In an interview with Music Radar, he explained that Meg's acute anxiety had been a combination of a very short pre-tour rehearsal time—that was further reduced by the birth of his son—and a hectic, multi-continental touring schedule.[30] He said, "I just came from a Raconteurs tour and went right into that, so I was already full-speed. Meg had come from a dead-halt for a year and went right back into that madness. Meg is a very shy girl, a very quiet and shy person. To go full-speed from a dead-halt is overwhelming, and we had to take a break."[30] Even so, Jack revealed the band's plan to release a seventh album by the summer of 2009.[31][32] On February 20, 2009—and on the final episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien—the band made their first live appearance after the cancellation of the tour, performing the song "We Are Going to Be Friends."[33] A documentary about their Canadian tour—titled The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights—premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 18, 2009.[34] Directed by Emmett Malloy, the film documents the band's summer 2007 tour across Canada and contains live concert and off-stage footage.[35] The duo appeared at the film's premiere and, before the movie started, they made a short speech about their love of Canada and why they chose to debut their movie in Toronto. A second feature titled Under Nova Scotian Lights was prepared for the DVD release.

However, almost two years passed with no new releases, and on February 2, 2011, the band reported on their official website that they were disbanding. The statement emphasized that it was not due to health issues or artistic differences, but "mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band."[36]

Other work

White has also appeared on the cover of Whirlwind Heat's single "Pink", in a Detroit Cobras music video "Cha Cha Twist" as Little Red Riding Hood, and appeared with Jack White in a segment of Jim Jarmusch's 2003 film Coffee and Cigarettes.

The White Stripes guest starred on The Simpsons in an episode titled "Jazzy and the Pussycats", which first aired on September 17, 2006.[37] She has done some modeling for Marc Jacobs' 2006 Spring line.[38] Two of her pictures appeared in the March 2006 issue of ELLE.

White was chosen by Bob Odenkirk to compose a drum theme for Dax Shepard's character in the 2006 film Let's Go to Prison.[39][40] Against Odenkirk's wishes, however, the studio removed it from the film.[41] Ray LaMontagne wrote a song, called "Meg White", about the drummer; it appears on LaMontagne's album Gossip in the Grain.

Personal life

The more you talk, the less people listen.

Meg White, Rolling Stone magazine[7]

White is—by her own admission—"very shy",[1] and gives few interviews. She guards her privacy in a manner that she identifies with Bob Dylan, whom she admires.[42]

In May 2009, White married guitarist Jackson Smith, son of musicians Patti Smith and Fred "Sonic" Smith. The wedding took place in Nashville, Tennessee, in a small ceremony in Jack White's backyard. Also married at the same ceremony was Jack White's Raconteurs bandmate Jack Lawrence to Jo McCaughey.[43] White and Smith divorced in July 2013.[44][45]


White with her drum kit in 2007.

White began with a red Ludwig Accent Series kit that had a red and white peppermint swirl on the resonant heads of the toms and bass drum.[46] On the Icky Thump tour, the bass drum head design was switched to a button. While recording From the Basement: The White Stripes, the design was switched to an image of White's hand holding the apple from the Get Behind Me Satan cover. Beginning in 2006, she also used a pair of Paiste 14-inch (36 cm) Signature Medium Hi-Hats, a Paiste 19-inch (48 cm) Signature Power Crash, and a Paiste 22-inch (56 cm) 2002 Ride.

White's Pearl Export bass drum—complete with original peppermint-painted bass drum that she used with the band's first show—and the Pearly Queen outfit she wore in the photos for the Icky Thump album, were featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame "Women Who Rock" exhibition.[47] In 2009, White donated her Ludwig kit to the Jim Shaw Rock 'N' Roll Benefit, an auction to raise money for the Detroit musician who was suffering from cancer.[48][49]

Awards and nominations

White has won several notable awards as a member of The White Stripes.

American Music Awards

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2007 The White Stripes Favorite Alternative Artist Nominated

Brit Awards

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2004 The White Stripes Best International Group Won
2004 Elephant (The White Stripes) Best International Album Nominated
2006 The White Stripes Best International Group Nominated
2008 The White Stripes Best International Group Nominated

Grammy Awards

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2004 Elephant (The White Stripes) Best Alternative Music Album Won
Album of the Year Nominated
"Seven Nation Army" (The White Stripes) Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Nominated
2006 Get Behind Me Satan (The White Stripes) Best Alternative Music Album Won
"My Doorbell" (The White Stripes) Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Nominated
2008 "Icky Thump" (The White Stripes) Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal Won
Icky Thump (The White Stripes) Best Alternative Music Album Won

Kerrang! Awards

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2003 Elephant (The White Stripes) Best Album Nominated

MTV Europe Music Awards

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2002 "Fell In Love With A Girl" video (The White Stripes) Best Video Nominated
2003 The White Stripes Best Rock Won
Best Group Nominated
Elephant (The White Stripes) Best Album Nominated
"Seven Nation Army" video (The White Stripes) Best Video Nominated
2004 "The Hardest Button to Button" video (The White Stripes) Best Video Nominated
2005 The White Stripes Best Alternative Nominated
2007 The White Stripes Artist's Choice Award Nominated

MTV Video Music Awards

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2002 "Fell In Love With A Girl" video (The White Stripes) Breakthrough Video Won
Video of the Year Nominated
2003 "Seven Nation Army" video (The White Stripes) Best Rock Video Nominated
Best Group Video Nominated
2004 "Hardest Button to Button" video (The White Stripes) Breakthrough Video Nominated
2007 "Icky Thump" video (The White Stripes) Best Group Video Nominated

NME Awards USA

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2008 The White Stripes Indie/Alternative Band of the Year Nominated
Icky Thump (The White Stripes) Indie/Alternative Album of the Year Nominated
"Icky Thump" (The White Stripes) Indie/Alternative Track Nominated

Q Awards

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2005 "Blue Orchid" video (The White Stripes) Best Video Nominated
2007 "Icky Thump" video (The White Stripes) Best Video Nominated

Shockwaves NME Awards

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2002 The White Stripes Best Band Nominated
Best New Act Nominated
2004 "Seven Nation Army" (The White Stripes) Best Single Won
The White Stripes Best International Band Nominated
Elephant (The White Stripes) Best Album Nominated
"Hardest Button To Button" (The White Stripes) Best Video Nominated
2005 Live Under Blackpool Lights DVD (The White Stripes) Best Music DVD Nominated


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  2. ^ "Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan". QuinStreet, Inc. Retrieved 2015-01-10. 
  3. ^ a b c d Klosterman, Chuck (Oct 2002). "The Garage", Spin. 18 (10):64-68
  4. ^ Handyside, 2004, pg. 25
  5. ^ Handyside, 2004, pg. 32
  6. ^ "White Stripes Marriage License" Glorious Noise Retrieved December 11, 2007
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Fricke, David (September 8, 2005), "White on White". Rolling Stone. (982): 66–72
  8. ^ a b c McCollum, Brian (September 2003). "Red, White, and Cool", Spin. 19(9):68-74
  9. ^ a b POWERS, ANN (Fedebruary 27, 2001). "POP REVIEW; Intellectualizing the Music Or Simply Experiencing It". Retrieved August 29, 2014.
  10. ^ Scaggs, Austin (May 1, 2003), "Jack White". Rolling Stone. (921):16
  11. ^ Heaney, Mick (04/28/2002). "The White Stripes". The Sunday Times.
  12. ^ a b Killingsworth, Jason (July 27, 2007). "The White Stripes Play Us a Little Number." Paste Magazine. Retrieved on August 5, 2014.
  13. ^ STAMBERG, SUSAN (June 12, 2002). "Profile: Band The White Stripes". Morning Edition (NPR).
  14. ^ Sinclair, David (August 7, 2001). "Genuine trendy success without trying". The Times.
  15. ^ "Motor City Is Burning". Archived from the original on November 22, 2006. Retrieved August 26, 2008. 
  16. ^ "White Stripes – De Stijl". Archived from the original on November 20, 2007. Retrieved August 26, 2008. 
  17. ^ "White Stripes Divorce Certificate" Glorious Noise. Retrieved December 11, 2007
  18. ^ Cameron, Keith (March 28, 2003), "The sweetheart deal". The Guardian. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  19. ^ Klosterman, Chuck (June 2002), "The White Stripes". Spin. 18(6):38
  20. ^ Shedden, Iain (October 20, 2001). "MUSIC", The Australian.
  21. ^ Sinclair, David (August 07, 2001). "Genuine trendy success without trying". The Times.
  22. ^ THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (April 04, 2003). "The White Stripes (Third Man Records)", The Canadian Press.
  23. ^ (June 5, 2007). "Meg White Drum Solo Maintains Steady Beat For 23 Minutes", The Onion. (43):23
  24. ^ TALBOTT, CHRIS (May 31, 2014). "Jack White issues apology to Black Keys and others, explains comments that drew criticism". The Canadian Press.
  25. ^ Katchen, Andrew (Mar 29, 2003), "White Stripes Stay Pure on 'Elephant'". Billboard. 115(13):9
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  27. ^ 9.11.07 (accessed September 12, 2007)
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  29. ^ KREPS , DANIEL (June 9, 2008). "Meg White Makes Cameo During Raconteurs Concert", Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  30. ^ a b "Jack White on The White Stripes' future". May 6, 2009. Retrieved 2010-04-05. 
  31. ^ "Meg White Surprises With Raconteurs In Detroit" Retrieved June 9, 2008.
  32. ^ "Wilmington Blogs:Pulp Culture | The News Journal". delawareonline. February 11, 2009. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  33. ^ "The White Stripes". The White Stripes. Retrieved October 4, 2011. 
  34. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-04-05. 
  35. ^ "". Retrieved 2010-04-05. 
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  37. ^ MTV Montgomery, James (2006)."White Stripes Get Entangled In A Simpson Family Feud"
  38. ^ NME staff (2006). "Meg White becomes a model" (accessed June 2, 2006)
  39. ^ Elliott, Alan (October 4, 2005). "Part 2: Meg White". Alan Elliott's official blog. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  40. ^ "Worst Reviews" Staff (2006). "Let's Go To Prison" Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  41. ^ Hutchinson, Sean (October 10, 2014). "15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About 'Let’s Go to Prison'", Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  42. ^ Perry, Andrew (November 14, 2004). "What's eating Jack?". London: The Observer. Retrieved August 14, 2007. 
  43. ^ "Meg White and Jackson Smith wed in Nashville.". The  
  44. ^ WEINER, JONAH (June 5, 2014). "Jack White." Rolling Stone. 1210:52-78
  45. ^ Smith vs White (Mich. 6th Cir. 2013). Text Note: User search required.
  46. ^ Porter, Tom (January 29, 2009). "White Stripes' Meg White auctioning Ludwig kit"
  47. ^ "Ladies First", Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  48. ^ Breihan, Tom (January 30, 2009). "Meg White Auctions Drums for Charity", Pitchfork. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  49. ^ Porter, Tom (January 29, 2009). "White Stripes' Meg White auctioning Ludwig kit", Retrieved October 18, 2014.

Further reading

  • Sullivan, Denise (2004). The White Stripes: Sweethearts of the Blues. Backbeat Books. ISBN 0-87930-805-2 Google Print (accessed June 1, 2006)

External links

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