By Hiram Lee in the USA:
Rock band White Stripes breaks up: a look back
2 April 2011
On February 2, the members of The White Stripes announced their band had broken up. In a statement published on their official web site, they wrote that they would “make no further new recordings or perform live.” The reason, as stated by the band, was “not due to artistic differences or lack of wanting to continue,” but was primarily “to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way.” This marks the end of one of the more talented and unique rock bands of the last decade.
The White Stripes were formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1997. Consisting of only two members, Jack and Meg White, the band was steeped in the traditions of early blues, country music and rock ‘n’ roll. Among Jack White’s biggest influences can be counted Delta Blues legend Son House and garage rock band The Stooges.
Jack White, who had worked as an apprentice upholsterer until forming The White Stripes, quickly established himself as a uniquely talented blues and rock guitarist and a musician of considerable character. His unusual way of singing, squeezing the words out of his mouth in the most unpredictable ways, and often with an exaggerated vibrato, was, and is, certainly unlike anything else in popular music.
His drummer, Meg White, was never a technically proficient musician, but the tasteful accompaniment she provided and the space she gave Jack to work with suited the band well. In a 2005 interview with Charlie Rose, Jack compared Meg’s drumming to 1930s blues musician “Robert Johnson tapping his foot on a floor.” As a duo, the group had an undeniable chemistry.
Jack and Meg were married at the time the band got its start and were divorced a few years later, but the musical partnership carried on. …
The first album also included the furious “The Big Three Killed My Baby,” about the hardships faced by autoworkers in Detroit in which White sings “The big three killed my baby/no money in my hand again” and “I’m about to have another blowout.” While only dealing with the collapse of Detroit explicitly in one song, the musical textures and emotional territory explored by the band throughout much of the album reflect something of that process, which has turned a city once a symbol of US industrial power into the country’s poorest urban area.
The White Stripes’ second album, De Stijl (2000), named after a Dutch modernist art movement in the early part of the 20th century, is a fan favorite and saw the group exploring some new territory, hinting at things to come, although the album is not entirely satisfying. It does contain an excellent version of Son House’s classic “Death Letter Blues”. The song remained in the group’s repertoire for years and provided some of the more explosive and powerful performances in their live shows. A performance of the song included in their concert documentary Under Blackpool Lights is especially notable.