The White Stripes were an American alternative rock duo, formed in 1997 in Detroit, Michigan. The group consisted of the songwriter Jack White (vocals, guitar, and keyboards) and drummer Meg White (drums and occasional vocals). Jack and Meg White were previously married to each other, but are now divorced. The White Stripes used a low-fidelity, do-it-yourself approach to writing and recording. Their music featured a melding of punk rock and blues influences and a raw simplicity of composition, arrangement, and performance. The duo was also noted for their fashion and design aesthetic which featured a simple color scheme of red, white, and black. After a long hiatus, The White Stripes formally announced their split in February 2011.
The White Stripes began their career as part of the Michigan underground garage rock scene and were signed to Italy Records, a small and independent Detroit-based garage punk label, in 1998.
Their debut single "Let's Shake Hands" was released in February 1998. Its first pressing was 1,000 copies on vinyl only. This was followed in October 1998 by the "Lafayette Blues" single. Again, 1,000 copies were released on vinyl only. A third single, "The Big Three Killed My Baby" on the Sympathy for the Record Industry label followed in March 1999.
The White Stripes' debut album, “The White Stripes,” was released on June 1999 on Sympathy for the Record Industry. The album was produced Jack White and Jim Diamond and recorded in January 1999 at Ghetto Recorders and Third Man Studios in Detroit. White dedicated the album to deceased blues musician Son House.
The White Stripes' second album, “De Stijl” (Dutch for "The Style"), was released on the Sympathy for the Record Industry label in June 2000. The album would go on to reach #38 on Billboard's Independent Albums chart in 2002 when The White Stripes' popularity began to grow. The album was self-recorded on an 8-track analog tape in Jack White's living room and was dedicated to furniture designer Gerrit Rietveld of the De Stijl Dutch minimalist art movement, as well as to the influential Georgia bluesman Blind Willie McTell.
The White Stripes' third album, “White Blood Cells,” was released in July 2001 on Sympathy for the Record Industry. The band enjoyed its first significant success the following year with the major label re-release of the album on V2 Records. The album peaked at #61 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, later being certified platinum by the RIAA. Bolstered by the hit single "Fell in Love with a Girl," the record propelled The White Stripes into early commercial popularity and critical success.
The White Stripes' fourth album, “Elephant,” was released in 2003 on V2. It marked the band's major label debut and was their first U.K. chart-topping album, as well as their first U.S. Top 10 album. The album eventually reached double platinum certification in Britain, and platinum certification in the U.S. Jack White self-produced the album with antiquated equipment, including a duct-taped 8-track tape machine and pre-1960s recording gear. The single, "Seven Nation Army" reached #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, #12 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and #76 on the Hot 100 Singles chart. The second single, a cover of Burt Bacharach's "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself," reached #25 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. In 2004, the album won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album, while "Seven Nation Army" won a Grammy for Best Rock Song.
The White Stripes' fifth album, “Get Behind Me Satan,” was released in 2005 on V2. Recorded in Jack White's then-Detroit home its piano-driven melodies and experimentation with marimba on "The Nurse" and "Forever For Her (Is Over For Me)," downplayed the explicit blues and punk styles that dominated earlier White Stripes albums. "Blue Orchid," the first single, became a radio hit in the United States and the band's second U.K. Top 10 hit. "My Doorbell" was the second single off of the album, followed by "The Denial Twist". Both also reached the Top 10 in the U.K. and charted on the Modern Rock chart as well. “Get Behind Me Satan” won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 2006.
In 2007 the band left V2 Records and signed with Warner Bros. Records which released their sixth album, “Icky Thump” that same year. “Icky Thump” entered the U.K. Albums chart at #1 and debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200. The titled track and lead single became the band's first Top 40 single, charting at #26, and later charted at #2 in the U.K. In February 2008, the album won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album.
A documentary film, “Under Great White Northern Lights” directed by Emmett Malloy, that followed the band's summer 2007 tour across Canada and contains live concert and off-stage footage was released in 2010. An album of various recordings from throughout the tour was also released, the band’s first and only live release. The album peaked at #11 on the Billboard 200 and represented the last official release before the band broke up in 2011.