John Anthony Gillis was born in Detroit on July 9, 1975. The youngest of ten siblings, he began playing drums at an early age and took inspiration from the world-weary blues of Son House
and Blind Willie McTell
. A fascination with guitar followed in his teenage years. After launching his own upholstery business in Detroit, White began to infiltrate the city's music scene as the drummer for Goober & the Peas, a local cowpunk band that split in 1995. While continuing to play drums for other groups, he crossed paths with a bartender named Meg White, and the two were married in 1996. Jack took Meg's surname, and the pair formed the White Stripes
after a Bastille Day jam session showed promising results.
With their color-coded image and raw, punky sound, the White Stripes
became a key component of the garage rock revival of the late '90s. In addition to their music, the bandmembers stirred public interest by claiming to be siblings, a declaration that seemed slightly less incestuous when Jack and Meg White divorced in 2000. Despite the split, the White Stripes
only grew in popularity as the decade progressed, eventually winning three consecutive Grammy Awards and issuing several platinum-certified albums.
Following the release of Elephant in 2003, Jack White took a break from the group to produce Loretta Lynn
's Van Lear Rose. A critical smash, the album helped endear Lynn
to a new generation of fans, thanks in part to White's credibility as a rock artist. He then returned to the White Stripes
for the release of Get Behind Me Satan, which saw him expanding his instrumental range with piano and marimba. Shortly thereafter, he launched a concurrent group, the Raconteurs
, with friend Brendan Benson
and two members of the Greenhornes
(who, incidentally, had served as backing musicians on Van Lear Rose). The Raconteurs
made their debut with 2006's Broken Boy Soldiers and toured in support of the album, while White publicly stressed that his work in the band should not be seen as a side project or a diversion from the White Stripes
. Thus, he began juggling his responsibilities to both groups, partnering with Meg White once again for the White Stripes
' 2007 release, Icky Thump, before returning to the Raconteurs
for 2008's Consolers of the Lonely.
While touring in support of the latter album, White suffered from bronchitis and often lost his voice, prompting singer Alison Mosshart
(from the Raconteurs
' touring partners, the Kills
) to climb on-stage and contribute her own vocals. The chemistry between Mosshart
and the Raconteurs
proved to be alluring, and the musicians opted to form a separate group named the Dead Weather
. With Jack White now handling drums, the band retreated to the studio and recorded an energetic debut, Horehound, in a matter of weeks. Released in 2009, the album was well received on both sides of the Atlantic, cracking the Top Ten in America and peaking at number 14 in the U.K. Encouraged by such success, the Dead Weather
began working on a second album during the fall, with the intention of previewing several new songs during an Australian tour in early 2010. In the meantime, White secured enough free time to appear in a movie -- the guitar-themed It Might Get Loud -- and produce an album for his wife, songwriter Karen Elson
The first solo outing from White, the bluesy, typically idiosyncratic Blunderbuss, named for a muzzle-loading firearm that was a precursor of the shotgun, arrived on April 24, 2012. It promptly debuted in the American charts at number one, the first White-associated album to do so. Blunderbuss also earned several Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year, Best Rock Album, and Best Rock Song for "Freedom at 21." White's second solo album, Lazaretto, followed in June 2014, preceded by the single "High Ball Stepper." It debuted at number one on the pop charts and earned positive reviews. The Dead Weather
released their third album, Dodge and Burn, in September of 2015, and a year later White released Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016, a double-disc compilation of acoustic numbers from his various projects. In April 2017, he dropped a surprise instrumental single called "Battle Cry." A lifelong baseball fan, it was announced that the song would be used as the walk-up music for Detroit Tigers infielder Ian Kinsler, with whom White co-owns the baseball bat company Warstic.
In early 2018, White issued "Connected by Love" and "Respect Commander," the first singles from his third solo effort, Boarding House Reach. ~ Andrew Leahey, Rovi