Jack White: Old School Mind With New Flare
We are living in a society profoundly dominated and influenced by technology. Everything needs to be faster and flashier to serve an ever present ‘instant gratification’ culture of individuals. Music is no exception to this fact. Generally, a musician has roughly thirty seconds to captivate the listener, or she’s gone. There is something to be said for those artists that stay true to their original course and are not swayed by popular opinion. The result is pure, good music and musicians that won’t get lost in the overwhelming crowd. Being unique, talented, and loyal to an original vision is not an easy feat to accomplish. One particular artist that continues to raise the bar higher and has his hand in pretty much every facet of the music business is Jack White.
John Anthony Gillis was born on July 9, 1975 in Detroit Michigan. After brief periods in a few bands, he met Megan White at a bar she was working. They married in 1996 and Gillis took Meg’s last name, going by Jack White. The pair started a band that later would be known for one of the most iconic and mimicked guitar riffs of all time. The “White Stripes” released their first album The White Stripes but did not have a real breakthrough until their third album White Blood Cells in 2001. The music was simple, with elements of blues, garage rock, and American Roots. The difference was, it was LOUD, powerful, raw, and unrelenting. After recording six albums and winning many awards, the two called it quits both with the band and marriage.
This situation did not slow Jack down. He began jamming with fellow guitarist Brendan Benson and the band “The Raconteurs” was born. The rock group primarily focuses around Jack White and his raw vocals and distorted guitar. Currently, the band is on hold has White explores different avenues. One of those being a “supergroup” of sorts called “The Dead Weather” where Jack relinquishes primary singing duties to Allison Mosshart (The Kills). The band continues to tour and has released three studio albums. On top of all of these projects, Jack White continues a widely popular solo career. He has come out with two studio albums that show him reverting back to a more bluesy and American Roots mind set.
Jack White doesn’t just limit himself to being a successful professional musician, his talents and interests are much too diverse to stop him. Among many other collaborations, White was one of the main musicians in a documentary named It Might Get Loud. The film explored the lives and music careers of Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), The edge (U2), and Jack White. The film gave an excellent inside glimpse of each of each of these musicians and watching three seemingly very different creative minds jamming together is pretty cool. From the film, you can tell that Jack White is an old soul. He loves simplicity and challenging himself to do more with less. “I keep guitars where the neck is bent and it is out of tune, I want to work, battle it, and conquer it, and make it express whatever attitude I have at the moment. I want it to be a struggle.” Just from the opening scene where he is building a one string guitar on the spot, anyone can see the man’s realness and passion for his craft.
Jack is even the founder of the independent record label Third Man Records in Detroit, Michigan with another location in Nashville. The label specializes in blues rock musicians and was the studio where all six “Raconteurs’” albums were recorded. The physical buildings of Third Man Records also serve as a record store, concert venue, and headquarters. They even added a record pressing plant in 2017 and plan to “lay claim that Detroit is the vinyl pressing capital of the world.” White has shown his great affinity for tangible music by opening this printing shop and is allowing people to experience music the way it was meant to.
Recently, Jack White is an executive producer for the PBS special The American Epic Sessions a tribute to 1920’s artists. Using “the only working 1920’s recording device in existence,” this was definitely in White’s wheel house.
Jack White is showing that with a real passion and perseverance, there is no reason for altering a creative style or vision. He may not be the most successful musician out there today, but he’s doing what he loves, making real music for anyone who cares to listen.
By Patrick Ortiz