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The White Stripes Biography

Last updated: 07/06/2012 12:00:00 PM

John Anthony Gillis was born in Detroit, Michigan on July 9, 1975 to Gorman McKenzie Gillis and Terresa (no last name given). He was the tenth child in his family and the seventh male child. He considers it to be a lucky number; the seventh male child is always different.

As a child he enjoyed music. At age eleven he took up playing drum. Later he wanted to play guitar and piano along with his drumming so he taught himself how to play them. He had liked Led Zeppelin and Cream and played around with them but it wasn’t until he was he was 18 and he got into the blues (Robert Johnson) He said that he could of liked techno but he thought that white people trying to be black is wrong. He said he might have had more friends if he did. At a later age he worked as a upholsterer.

On September 23, 1997, John married Megan Martha White and took her last name. Jack wanted his then-wife Meg to take up the drums which formed The White Stripes. The White Stripes was John Gillis and Megan White (she had played violin for a short time). In 1997 they began playing together beginning starting on an open mike night at a club named the Golden Dollar. The played three songs including, “Love Potion Number Nine”. While he was in The White Stripes, Jack was in The Goober and Peas and at one time Jack played drums for them. He had also been in 2 Star Tabernacle. The White Stripes used to open up for 2 Star Tabernacle. The Go saw him there and asked him to join and then they started on there debut album. He only played guitar, the parts were already written. They kicked him out shortly after because people recognized him from The White Stripes and people would watch them for that alone. While all of this happened Jack did back-up vocals and piano on Ramblin’s Man 7”.

The White Stripes released a 7” Debut “Let's Shake Hands", on Italy Records and then released "Lafayette Blues" After this they signed on to Sympathy For The Record Industry. The single "The Big Three Killed My Baby" was there first single on that label. The number three is the theme of the song. The whole song accents on the third beat and there are three verses.

During January 1999 The White Stripes recorded their first CD. They then
released there first self titled CD on June 8th, 1999 and while they got attention for that is was 2000’s De Stijl that got them more popular. It was released on June 20th, 2000. De Stijl was named after a Dutch abstract art movement based on simple colors and since The White Stripes are simple they thought that that name was perfect. The CD was recorded in Third Man Studio which was really Jack’s living room (was his parents house which he bought from them when they moved out) on an 8-track recorder.

They had a huge 2001 summer album "White Blood Cells". It was released during July 2001 and recorded in February 2001. The Union Forever” and “Now Mary” were songs that Jack played while in 2 Star Tabernacle. They then signed a contract for $1,000,000 with XL. In July 2001 the White Stripes toured the UK and sold out the shows fast. The band became huge in the UK before becoming big in the USA.

At the end of January 2002 when White Blood Cells was released on a major label (XL), they became USA hits. “Hotel Yorba” was released and started the White Stripe Craze. The video for “Fell In Love With A Girl” was made over 8 weeks out of LEGOs. At the MTV VMA’s the video won They released it and then the mainstream audiences on MTV and radio caught on. Over the summer of 2002 the video for “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” came out.

The White Stripes began recording Elephant in Toe Rag Studios in Hackney, East London. The studio has equipment from only before 1964. It was recorded it ten days. Gap wanted Jack and Meg to be in a commercial for an $1 million they turned it down to avoid selling out. During the Winter Jack worked on the Civil War movie “Cold Mountain”. They mixed it and then kept it unreleased until April 1, 2003. Shortly before the White Stripes CD Elephant came out during a snowstorm in New York the sidewalks became icy and Meg slipped and broke her arm. It all worked out though, on April 1 a flurry of good reviews hit for Elephant. April 23-26 (22-25 in late night language) they appeared on the Conan O’ Brian Show which is a record for most nights played in a row.

For this I thank:
Rolling Stone Magazine

Thanks to for submitting the biography.