The truth about Jack and Meg White

30 March 2024, 18:00

Jack and Meg White of The White Stripes in February 2002
Jack and Meg White of The White Stripes in February 2002. Picture: Tim Roney/Getty Images
Radio X

By Radio X

They were one of the most popular musical duos of the 00s, but do you think you know everything there is to know about the band?

The White Stripes were one of the biggest bands of the 2000s and their lo-fi take on garage rock saw them achieve huge success, even headlining Glastonbury in 2005.

When they first rose to fame, the couple famously portrayed themselves as brother and sister, but most music fans now know they were in fact husband and wife.

On 30 March 2001, the Detroit Free Press ran a story on the city's hottest new band, but writer Christopher Walton uncovered one piece of information that caused a sensation. While Jack White continued with the story that his musical partner Meg was his sister, the reporter had been doing some digging...

The White Stripes - Hardest Button To Button (Official Music Video)

"They are actually former husband and wife, divorced since March 2000, according to Oakland County Circuit Court records," read the piece, before going on to quote the charismatic frontman: "Frankly, we're kind of tired with all the attention on the brother-sister thing. The White Stripes are about the music, and we don't want that to be lost."

That's one mystery solved. But what else do you know about the mysterious pairing, and why were The White Stripes even called The White Stripes?

Find out more about the former spouses and bandmates here.

  1. Jack White was from Detroit, Michigan

    Jack was born on 9 July 1975 to his mother Teresa and father Gorman Gillis.

    His mother had a Polish family and his father was Scottish-Canadian. He was raised Catholic and was an altar boy.

  2. Meg White was born in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan

    Meg was born on 10 December 1974 to Walter and Catherine White. She grew up in a wealthy suburb with her older sister Heather.

    The White Stripes during 2003 KROQ Weenie Roast
    The White Stripes during 2003 KROQ Weenie Roast. Picture: L. Cohen/WireImage/Getty Images
  3. The pair met through Meg's work

    Instead of going to college, Meg decided she wanted to be a chef and began working at Memphis Smoke. This is where she met Jack and they began dating. Meg decided to learn the drums on a whim and Jack liked her fresh and simple style.

    They began playing together and played their first gig at the Gold Dollar in Detroit.

    Meg and Jack White performing on stage at London's Astoria in December 2001
    Meg and Jack White performing on stage at London's Astoria in December 2001. Picture: Nicky J. Sims/Redferns/Getty Images
  4. Meg and Jack White were married before they formed a band

    They may have concocted the siblings story as a gimmick when they formed the band in 1997, but they officially became Jack and Meg White a when they married a year before on 21 September 1996.

  5. Jack took Meg's surname

    Yes, Jack is often thought of as the brains behind the operation and the architect of the whole band, but it was actually Meg - who was born Megan Martha White - who was responsible for their name.

    Jack - who was actually born John Anthony Gillis - changed his name legally to hers when they got married.

    The White Stripes pictured in December 2001
    The White Stripes pictured in December 2001. Picture: Gie Knaeps/Getty Images
  6. Their surname wasn't the only inspiration for the The White Stripes' name

    According to indie folklore, The White Stripes were also called The White Stripes as a nod to Meg's penchant for peppermint sweets.

    Jack White is quoted as saying: "Meg loves peppermints, and we were going to call ourselves The Peppermints. But since our last name was White, we decided to call it The White Stripes. It revolved around this childish idea, the ideas kids have—because they are so much better than adult ideas, right?"

  7. The couple divorced before they even became famous

    By the time the band had even released their breakout album White Blood Cells in 2001, they had already called it quits as husband and wife.

    They are said to have divorced in March 2000, almost a year before the third album hit the shops.

    The White Stripes at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards
    The White Stripes at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards. Picture: Theo Wargo/WireImage/Getty
  8. Jack and Meg both went on to marry and divorce again

    After Meg, Jack White was married to the English supermodel and singer-songwriter Karen Elson from 2005-2013. They share two children together: Scarlett Teresa White and Henry Lee White.

    After Jack, Meg White was married from 2009-2013 to guitarist Jackson Smith - the son of Patti Smith and Fred "Sonic" Smith.

  9. Meg was less enthusiastic about The White Stripes than Jack

    In throwback interview, Jack White opened up about Meg's lack of excitement when it came to recording in the studio together.

    As reported by NME in 2012, in an interview with Esquire, he describes Meg as "very uninterested."

    "So we would finish a mix of a song and I'd say, 'Wow! That's pretty good!' I'd look around and Meg would just be sitting there, and the engineer would just be sitting there."

    He continued: "So it'd be sorta like, 'OK... Let's just move on to the next one.' It was just me by myself. But it was the best thing for me. It taught me a lot about trusting my gut," he explained.

    His relationship with the other half of the duo always retained an enigmatic quality - something Jack admitted after their split.

    "It's strange to know that there's beautiful moments that no one will ever know about," he commented.

    "It's whether I'm going to tell you, because Meg's never going to tell you. There's a sadness to that, a romance."

  10. The White Stripes in Union Square Park, New York. October 2002.
    The White Stripes in Union Square Park, New York. October 2002. Picture: Scott Gries/Getty Images

    The White Stripes officially dissolved in 2011

    After a long hiatus with no new releases, the duo reported that they were disbanding.

    Taking to their official website on 2 February 2011, they wrote: "The reason is not due to artistic differences or lack of wanting to continue, nor any health issues as both Meg and Jack are feeling fine and in good health.

    They added: "It’s for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way."

QUIZ: Guess the lyrics to The White Stripes' Fell In Love With A Girl

QUIZ: How well do you know these White Stripes lyrics?