Supergroups. Jack White, the Glorious Raconteur

Old friends, bluesy riffs and endless energy.

Ultimate Guitar
Supergroups. Jack White, the Glorious Raconteur

Dark curly hair, little beard, guitar, small brown cigarette in the mouth. Sounds familiar, right? This time I want to talk about another musical genius and also a great collaborator – Jack White.

Jack was born in Detroit 42 years ago, and he is still rocking hard. Everyone knows “Seven Nation Army,” one of his greatest and most popular tunes ever, made by his first commercially-successful band The White Stripes. It has been shaking stadiums and clubs for years. Stylish red and white covers of their albums, unforgettable riffs, and vocals, inscribed the duo into the 21st-century music history. Unfortunately, after 14 years of hardcore touring and making one great album after another, they broke up in 2011. But Jack White wouldn’t be Jack if he stopped at that point. He started his solo career and released his sharp debut called 'Blunderbuss' only five years ago, in 2012, having a status of one of the greatest guitarists in history and owning his own label Third Man Records which issues numerous vinyls of freshmen’s songs nearly every month. But what was he doing besides that? Oh yeah, he made two supergroups.

The Raconteurs

In the summer of 2005, Jack met his old friend, a solo artist Brendan Benson and wrote a song which later would turn into the first single of the band called The Raconteurs, “Steady As She Goes.” Benson and White were joined by Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler from the band The Greenhornes and released their first album “Broken Boy Soldier” in spring of 2006. Two years later the second album followed, “Consolers Of The Lonely.” The melodies, the guitars, Jack’s voice accompanied by Benson’s backing vocals, it was different from The White Stripes but astonishing in its own way. Even film director Jim Jarmusch was so impressed by their music that shot a video for their first single. Until that day I personally think that “Broken Boy Soldier,” the title track from their debut, is one of the greatest anti-war songs ever. That band definitely helped Jack to expand his ideas and to try something new. In an old Rolling Stone interview, Jack said that being in that band after years of White Stripes was like getting into a big, luxury car after years of driving a bicycle. Now they are on a hiatus, but Benson has recently told the press that they still hang out together and that may be they will record the new material in the future.

Brendan Benson once stated, "We're just a group of old friends making music together." But the media insisted on calling them a supergroup, which, to be fair, is absolutely justified. 
YouTube preview picture

The Dead Weather

The second step for Jack was forming a band called The Dead Weather. Their sound is honest, bluesy and heavy. Alison Mosshart, the voice of The Kills, Jack White, Jack Lawrence (who made his way to The Dead Weather right after finishing his journey with The Raconteurs) accompanied by Dean Fertita from Queens Of The Stone Age made three records full of heavy riffs and Mosshart’s meaningful and dexterous verses. It all started in 2008 during The Raconteurs tour, when Mr. Jack lost his voice due to the illness and Alison agreed to replace him during some of the gigs. The chemistry between the two artists has led to the creation of the supergroup. Just check that live performance and feel that contagious late-night vibe.
YouTube preview picture
But what stands behind Jack’s wonderful skill to generate new musical ideas and create supergroups? First and foremost, it’s hard work. But besides that, he has a pretty strict and old-fashioned way of seeing things. In his interviews, he often expressed the idea that new technologies in the current age of social media and entertainment industry made people less creative. His famous advice to the young men is, “Quit playing video games, throw away the auto-tune program and cut three strings off your guitar.” Jack is also a big believer in the whole 'just do it' philosophy. “There are many people out there who will tell you that you can’t. What you’ve got to do is to turn around and say: “Watch me.”
YouTube preview picture

This is Part 2 of the supergroup series.
You can read about Josh Homme's supergroups in my previous article


15 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Jack is one of the most inspiring musicians around, and of all time. His attitude towards music, that it doesn't matter what you have available to you, you can do it, I find very uplifting and encouraging. Personally, I think he is a fantastic drummer, producer, and has become a great piano player. He sits well with a band, and stands out as an individual. It's easy to consider that his bands are helmed by him alone, however the Benson-led songs and Dead Weather songs without a White writing credit show that he can take the back seat and truly be a band member. Never thought of Broken Boy Soldier as anti-war. Dean Fertita was also involved with the Raconteurs. He was their touring auxiliary member.
    Oh yeah, I know about Fertita. And "Broken Boy Soldier" was covered heavily in the press as an anti-war song. At first, back in 2006 I was also surprised but than checked the lyrics. Hooray for Jack! 😊
    I just don't see the anti-war message at all. I've always taken it as a song about having a hard time growing up and abandoning your childhood feelings and things. When you go to school as an adult, you drop yourself off. People who go to college often try to shed their personalities and outgrow their old selves, but then people tend to revert back to who they always were. The essence of the song being that you never feel grown up, you just feel like yourself.
    He's always had a great, gritty blues feel to his playing (Ball and Biscuit is one of my favorites), but I think there's more of a punk influence there that he doesn't get much credit for.
    I could not be more disappointed at the fact that Meg wasn't mentioned in the very beginning of this article where the writer talked about Jacks time in The White Stripes. Yet the very next band they wrote about him joining, they mentioned every damn member. And Meg is literally mentioned nowhere in this article.
    'His famous advice to the young men is, “Quit playing video games[...]' Nah. 
    once i heard jack white talking on a loudspeaker at sixflags after i shot horse in the bathroom. i like that guy
    I don't get it. The guy had 1-2 alt rock hits, and all of a sudden he's a regular Howlin' Wolf or something? It's weird that him being a FAN of classic music somehow makes people think HE'S a classic musician.
    He's pretty massively successful. His second solo album beat vinyl sales records that were last held by Pearl Jam, he's been nominated for a Grammy 12 different years, if he's a 1-2 hit guy to you, you just missed it.
    listen to some of his deep cuts, last half of icky thump, ball and a biscuit, then try to play what he plays exactly like he does. dude has blues chops. NO question