The duo is formed, drawing influence from the garage rock and punk genres as well as Jack White’s passion for American folk music. The band members’ mysterious relationship is often mentioned in reference with the group. White describes his reasoning for forming a duo:
I could see that it was impossible to get your ideas across, with all the people — the soundman, lighting people, producers — you had to go through. I suppose that put me in the direction of a two-piece band.
Lafayette Blues is the band’s second single. White and Dave Buick hand-paint copies to sell at a release party, which later become collectors’ items.
We pitched up six dollars for them. I remember me and Ben were talking, Aw that’s too much! No-one’s gonna buy it at the Gold Dollar for six dollars…It’s funny stuff – thinking no-one’s gonna buy them for 6 dollars, now they’re going for 2700!
The band releases its self-titled debut album on the Sympathy for the Record Industry label. To promote the album, the band tours with Pavement and Sleater-Kinney. Jack White says:
There’s definitely a childishness in it. From Meg’s standpoint, the drumming is real primitive and I really love that. My voice, I think, sometimes sounds like a little kid. You see that approach in a lot of great bands — Iggy Pop throwing tantrums on stage. Everybody’s still that same person they were when they were young — at least they still want to be. They still want to have that freedom.
After ceasing living together, Jack and Meg White divorce in the same year that the White Stripes’ second album is released. Jack describes tensions in the band:
She viewed me that way of ‘Oh, big deal, you did it, so what?’ Almost every single moment of the White Stripes was like that. We’d be working in the studio and something amazing would happen: I’m like, ‘Damn, we just broke into a new world right there!’ And Meg’s sitting in silence.”
After Jack White and Meg White’s divorce, the band releases its second album, again on Sympathy for the Record Industry. The album title is Dutch for “the style.” The band again tours with Sleater-Kinney after the record’s release. Jack says:
The first LP’s really angry, you know. This LP we tried to get a little cleaner. Maybe we changed from anger to bitterness.
A report of the Whites’ former marriage appears in the New York Times in a blurb about the White Stripes. The rumor is previously reported in Entertainment Weekly, while a New Yorker issue from the same period still refers to the pair as siblings.
The band’s third album is released on Sympathy for the Record Industry, which also propels the band to mainstream commercial success. Jack White recalls:
It’s kind of hard — we sort of feel like the flavor of the month, that there’s nowhere to go but down. We’re kind of hoping that all the fake attention we’re getting lately will go away. In the meantime, we’re trying to decide how to respond.
The band’s fourth album is its first US Top Ten debut. The band releases on V2, which previously re-released the band’s early recordings. Jack White says the band’s success has not diluted their music:
We were completely unaffected. We feel like we recorded the way we always had, which was great. Five of the songs were written there in the studio. A lot of it was just trying to see what we could come up with under this circumstance.
The band wins 2 Grammys at the 2004 awards. The band’s album Elephant wins Best Alternative Music Album, while single Seven Nation Army wins for Best Rock Song.
White Stripes wins the Grammy for Best Rock Song for Seven Nation Army, and Best Alternative Music Album for Elephant.
Get Behind Me Satan wins for Best Alternative Music Album. My Doorbell is also nominated for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal.
White Stripes wins the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album for Get Behind Me Satan.
The White Stripes perform Fell In Love With A Girl during The Late Show with David Letterman to promote their album White Blood Cells.
The band ends its Canadian tour with a single-note ‘concert’ in St. John’s. The band plays one note before announcing it has now played in every province and territory in Canada. The band plays a full-length concert that evening at Mile One Stadium.
The band cancels its UK tour due to Meg’s acute anxiety problems. The tour is planned as their largest UK tour yet, starting in Glasgow on October 24 and ending in London on November 2.
We hate to let people down and are very sorry.
White Stripes wins the Grammy for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals for Icky Thump.
The band releases a live album and tour film of its 2007 Canadian performances. Malloy directs the film, mixing black-and-white and color footage. The director says:
I think the reason why the film’s as personal and intimate as it is, is because there was no thought of making a film. Jack was telling me about the tour — these parts of the world that were really interesting, the fact that it was their tenth anniversary — and I told him, “You guys should have somebody film that. That’s too good to pass up.” But once we started, I felt right away, “Wow, this is a real special trip to be on.”
White claims the Guinness Book of World Records denied The White Stripes’ record for shortest concert in history for its 2007 show.
The thing is, though, that the Guinness book is a very elitist organisation. There’s nothing scientific about what they do. They just have an office full of people who decide what a record is and what isn’t. Most of the records in there – who has the biggest collection of salt-and-pepper shakers or whatever – are just whatever they want them to be.
Guinness says the White Stripes were acknowledged as record-holders for shortest concert in the 2009 edition, but have since scrapped the category.
Subsequent to this appearance we received a large volume of applications from bands and performers seeking to beat this record. The ultimate results of this was individuals claiming that simply appearing onstage was enough to qualify them for this record.
The organization also encourages White to “attempt any of the 40,000 records that are currently active on our database.”
Two tracks–Buzzkill(er) and It’s Just Too Bad–and are announced as an upcoming single in White’s Third Man Records Vault series. The songs are part of Vault Package #21, which also includes The White Stripes’ Live Under the Lights of the Rising Sun LP.