One of a new breed of back-to-basics rock acts to emerge from Detroit, Michigan, USA, the White Stripes comprises enigmatic bass-free duo Jack White (b. John Anthony Gillis, Detroit, Michigan, USA; guitar/vocals) and Meg White (b. Megan Martha White, Detroit, Michigan, USA; drums). The Whites, variously assumed to be husband and ex-wife or brother and sister, but both denied, formed their new band in 1997. Judging from their facial looks it initially seemed likely the duo were brother and sister, but the matter was confused by Jack White stating that the couple were once married and the posting of a marriage license and divorce certificate on the Internet.
Jack had previously played guitar in garage rock band the Go, but his new project's musical output is equally informed by folk blues, country 60s Britpop and Broadway show tunes. The Whites' striking stage presence, dressed in minimalist red and white outfits, is allied to their thrilling grasp of the rudiments of timeless rock music. The duo released 1997's debut 7-inch single, "Let's Shake Hands", on the Italy Records imprint. After one further single ("Lafayette Blues") for the label, they relocated to the leading independent Sympathy For The Record Industry, debuting with the single "The Big Three Killed My Baby". Their self-titled long-playing debut garnered immediate praise, mixing astute cover versions (Robert Johnson's "Stop Breaking Down Blues" and Bob Dylan's "One More Cup Of Coffee") with some devastating originals.
By the time of the following year's De Stijl, named after the Dutch abstract art movement led by Gerrit Rietveld, the media buzz surrounding the White Stripes had reached new heights. Of particular note was the duo's incredible reception in the UK, where their music was lauded by a wide range of media outlets including The Daily Telegraph, The Sun and even Radio 4's Today programme, not normally known for its liberal music policy. The influential John Peel was quoted as comparing their importance to that of Jimi Hendrix and the Sex Pisto
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