Dear Rock Critics and Sycophants,
Meg White here. You know me as the oft-mocked former drummer of The White Stripes. As the story goes Jack and I were married and living in Detroit when he proposed the idea of starting a band together. I was the childlike naïf to his creative Paige like genius. You know the deal. Meg was just along for the ride banging pots and pans together like a child on the floor of the kitchen. Well as of yesterday my NDA is up and it’s time for the truth to come out. Jack White has never written a song in his life. There is no Jack White. I invented him.
The Jack White you know was born Bruce Dickenson in Grosse Pointe. His family had made their fortune by inventing automatic windshield wipers. A child of privilege without a care in the world. The story of being the youngest of ten children is a piece of fiction I created for him in order to make him seem more hardscrabble and authentic.The tales of a teenage upholsterer, utter nonsense. It was I who stole him away from his family and created the myth of Jack White.
I met him at a bowling alley in Detroit. He was in town to see Marcy’s Playground. His jaguar had broken down on the way to the concert and he couldn’t reach his parents to come pick him up. He was crying by the nacho cheese pump when I first saw him. I bought him a soft pretzel and helped him get his car running again. My original plan was to get his home address and rob him and his family blind. I let him take me on a few dates in order to case the joint. Back then I was mostly into petty B&E and some check cashing scams. The night before I was going to tie his family up and rob them, I realized that I was falling for Bruce.
A whirlwind romance followed. His family forbade him from marrying me. He ran away and said he would do anything for me. We were to be wed. Without the windshield wiper money things were going to get tough quick. With no money and no jobs I knew we needed a way out. Thus was born The White Stripes. If there is a better racket than playing rock music I haven’t found it. I knew we needed a hook though.
I had been playing drums since I was a child. My heroes were Neil Pert and Phil Collins. Initially I intended to for us to be a prog rock duo in the tradition of Rush or King Crimson. I am a beast on the toms and the gong but there was no way that Jack would be able to play the complicated syncopated rhythms I needed him to. Then it hit me. Dress him up in red and black pretend to be brother and sister. I needed something simpler than the monstrosities that were on the radio at the time but with just enough credibility that the cool kids would buy into it.
I had him change his name to Jack as my way of letting everyone in on the joke. See Jack play guitar. See Jack play three chords on a plastic guitar. See Meg go right to the bank. It was perfect. I would make his limited guitar playing the center piece of this whole charade. I dumbed my drumming down to the most primal thing I could think of. It was the only way to not expose his extreme lack of talent. He couldn’t play well but he was cute and with a little coaching he could be whatever I wanted.
My friends asked me why I made Jack the centerpiece. The answer is simple. Sadly the male dominated music press wouldn’t accept that a women could have created The White Stripes. We would be taken as a young girl’s candy coated fantasy. By putting Jack out front and having him spout all that nonsense about Robert Johnson and Sun Records the fourth estate would lap it all up. It was the only way. Before the band started to take off I divorced Jack without him knowing just to ensure that I was protected if everything went tits up. We couldn’t commingle personal and professional finances. I couldn’t let him know our love was my only way to really control him, that is till the money started rolling in.
Jack became my own little rock and roll Eliza Doolittle. I taught him about the blues and how to speak to the press. I taught him to play the simple songs I had written. Taught him to dance and sing. I created Jack White and put him on stage. Soon the world came calling. Things went so much farther than I could have ever imagined. I had built this rock and roll monster and I let it stomp its way all over the world. It’s like that movie says. I spent so much time trying to do something I never thought if I should. Hold on to your proverbial butts.
Like Shelley’s doctor it wasn’t long before I lost control of my monster. By the time Elephant came out Jack started going off book. He was trying to write songs and influence the direction of the band. The money and the fame wasn’t enough. Bruce was gone and only Jack remained. It was becoming harder and harder to get him to do what I needed. He wanted to start acting and release a book of his own poetry. Things were out of control. I thought maybe I was the problem. I wrote songs for him and set him up with friends of mine. The Raconteurs were a last ditch effort to try and control him. I never counted on anyone liking those songs but low and behold, it was a hit.
I realized it had to end. I revealed that we were no longer married. Jack was crushed. He said that he couldn’t be in a band with me anymore. I was tired of pretending to be the person holding Jack back. I was tired of being mocked. So I blew it all up. We were touring in Canada when I told him I was ending things. I told him I would continue to write songs for him as a solo artist and that I would create a record label for him. I would fade into the shadows. Now I spend my days writing songs for him to record and paying homeless people to wrestle. I realized it was easier to be Colonel Parker than Jack Wilkinson.
The next time you hear Bruce prattle on about art, the blues, life, music, any of it. Know that it’s Meg you’re hearing from. When you hear him release a new record know that it’s my notes you are hearing. I’ll always be there in the background. You see I fell in love with a boy, fell in love once, and almost completely. He’s in love with his myth.
Keep on Rocking,