Jack White, You're as Important as You Wanna Be | County Grind | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

Music News

Jack White, You're as Important as You Wanna Be

Although he declines to give many interviews and claims his personal life isn't nearly as important as his music, Jack White's stature grew since launching the White Stripes, an unlikely duo with ex-wife Meg White. Even then, his ego was obviously significant, given the fact that Meg's dubious drumming skills naturally put him front and center. Likewise, the rumors that swirled around about the pair's real relationship (were they siblings? husband and wife? simply a casual couple?) only seemed to inflame the buzz that constantly surrounded them.

Born Jack Gillis on July 9, 1975, White rapidly ascended to the top tier of modern guitar gods, ranking number 70 on Rolling Stones' list of the best pickers of all time. Not surprisingly then, he never failed to flaunt his ambitions. In 2005, he said in a CBS 60 Minutes interview that his life could have emerged much differently had he followed his initial inclination to become a priest. He went into the family upholstery business instead, which gave him opportunity to explore his burgeoning fascination with the blues. The first album he ever recorded was under the guise of The Upholsterers.

Regardless, it was the White Stripes that brought White immediate acclaim, and their 14 year run over the course of six albums made them instant underground darlings, as well as mainstream chart constants. According to Wikipedia, they also achieved the dubious distinction of playing the shortest concert ever, by virtue of the fact they managed only a single note at a show in Newfoundland (Happily, they made up for it later by playing an entire gig that night).

Even so, when the band announced its split last year, Jack wasted no time in branching out into other realms. His recent affiliations with the Raconteurs and The Dead Weather brought him further kudos and credence, although his production role on country singer Loretta Lynn's comeback album, Van Lear Rose, significantly expanded his reputation and made him an eclectic auteur of great distinction.

Both the Raconteurs and The Dead Weather have released two albums apiece to date, each a cauldron of reliable power pop melodies that oozed, dare we say, instant accessibility. Nevertheless, Blunderbuss, his first solo release, marked his official coming out as an artist on his own terms, thanks to its odd blend of Zeppelin-esque swagger, T-Rex-like quirkiness and his own flair for brash and boisterous rock 'n' roll. His visibility factor has also been upped several notches thanks to his contributions to the Cold Mountain soundtrack (he also made a cameo appearance in the film, following his 2003 acting debut in the rightfully obscure Mutant Swinger from Mars), a performance on The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams compilation, his uber-hip Third Man Records, and a highly publicized fling with actress Renee Zellweger.

Still, White seems to have attained a certain rarified status, which to some pundits equate him to a Great White Hope in terms of his current relevance to modern rock. The question is... Why? To that end, we can't help but wonder what has contributed to this reverential appeal.

Here are a few possibilities:

They told us so
The critics seem to have seized on the notion that he is important. So who are we to quibble?

Macca likes him
White's participation in the White House tribute to Paul McCartney, when Sir Paul received the prestigious Gershwin Award, confirmed the fact that the young musician was a figure of major importance. Given the all-star line-up tapped to play in that stellar salute, White proves he is an A-list artist. It should also be noted that his cover of Macca's "Mother Nature's Son," spiked with a snippet of "That Would Be Something," wasn't half bad either.

Big shot buds
Then again, White managed to accumulate some fairly significant associates even on his own, having worked or appeared with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Beck, Jeff Beck, Alicia Keys, and others of that big time ilk.

Guitar heroes
In 2009, White was paired with Jimmy Page and the Edge in the film It Might Get Loud, a documentary that found the trio sharing and discussing their guitar prowess. If one is judged by the company they keep, this single piece of celluloid is, in itself, enough to suggest he's a superstar.

Dolla, dolla bill y'all
Since money can buy prestige, then White will never be lacking. In 2006, he and his British born ex Karen Elson were estimated to have a joint fortune worth of $37 million, placing them among the top ten wealthiest entertainers under the age of 30 living in the United Kingdom.

Triple snap
Finally, if attitude indicates importance, then White possesses plenty of the former, at least enough to suggest he also has lots of the latter. And who are we to disagree?

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lee Zimmerman

Latest Stories