With new album Lazaretto, Jack White is proving his chops once again as a innovative musician and a genuine rock star, but his former partner-in-music Meg White has vanished from the scene. In a feature Rolling Stone interview Jack had a few things to say about Meg that he later regretted.
“I don’t think anyone talks to Meg,” he told the music magazine. “She’s always been a hermit. When we lived in Detroit, I’d have to drive over to her house if I wanted to talk to her, so now it’s almost never.”
He also expressed some frustration with Meg for not being his cheerleader. “She’s one of those people who won’t high-five me when I get the touchdown. 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.”
Meg White, who I also talked about to Rolling Stone about our working conversations, or lack thereof, is, of course, a musician I’ve personally championed for 15 years. She is a strong female presence in rock and roll, and I was not intending to slight her either, only to explain how hard it was for us to communicate with our very different personalities. This got blown out of proportion and made into headlines, and somehow I looked like I was picking on her. I would never publicly do that to someone I love so dearly. And, there are mountains of interviews where my words are very clear on how important I think she is to me and to music.
Meg’s silence and seemingly extreme introversion is an issue that was explored in their 2010 DVD The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights.
Here’s a clip from that film where Jack and Meg talk about Meg’s lack of talking:
Here’s Jack and Meg backstage after a show in that film. Jack’s a bit aggressive in this bit:
And a very sweet clip of Jack singing tenderly to Meg while she starts to cry:
Jack and Meg White have a complicated relationship that’s shrouded in a bit of deception and mystery. They met in Detroit and Jack, who’s real name is John Anthony Gillis, took Meg’s last name (his children with ex-wife Karen Elson also bear the surname White.) When they hit the music scene they tried to convince the public that they were brother in sister, but a divorce certificate surfaced showing they got married in 1996 while they were still starving artists in Detroit, and were divorced by 2000, when The Stripes were first gaining momentum. Jack has called the marriage and divorce certificates that circulate “fake.” In 2011 he told SPIN magazine that his friends who have claimed they were married “Are all f**king with you.” He doesn’t ever give much more away than that, but it seems he’s the one who’s f**king with us.
Jack has said that “Everything apart from the music is a trick,” but they are “mated for life,” and “will be brother and sister till the day we die.” Their friend singer-songwriter Holly Golightly put it this way: “They’re brother and sister as far as I’m concerned ~ and husband and wife.”
Jack had two kids with model Karen Elson, who he was married to from 2005-13. In 2009 Meg White married musician Jackson Smith (Patti Smith’s son) in Jack’s back yard, but they divorced in 2013. Even though they’re both free, from Jack White’s recent comments, it doesn’t look like they’ll be getting back together on either a personal or a professional level anytime soon.