The singer-songwriter-guitar virtuoso published a letter expressing regret over the comments he made about his former White Stripes accomplice and a bunch of other singers in a recent Rolling Stone cover story.
Jack White doesn’t pull any punches. Just ask the lead singer of the Von Bondies.
Promoting his recent solo LP Lazaretto, which will be released on June 10, the pasty dark prince of garage rock—and guitar maestro—went H.A.M. on half of the music industry in a recent cover story for Rolling Stone. In the article, curiously titled “Jack White: The Strange World of a Rock & Roll Willy Wonka,” the 38-year-old musician continued his beef with The Black Keys, which heated up last year when the gossip site TMZ leaked private emails from White to his ex-wife Karen Elson that he sent during their divorce proceedings.
“That’s a possible twelve fucking years I’m going to have to be sitting in kids chairs next to that asshole with other people trying to lump us in together,” White said of The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. “He gets yet another free reign to follow me around and copy me and push himself into my world.”
The Black Keys’ drummer Patrick Carney spoke about those emails in the May 22nd issue of Rolling Stone, saying that while White “sounds like an asshole,” he felt for him because the rant was written while he was in the throes of a divorce. “We’ve all said fucked-up shit in private, and divorce is hard,” added Carney.
"I felt in a way forced into talking about very private opinions of mine…"
So beef squashed, right? Wrong. In the aforementioned recent issue of Rolling Stone, White again went in on The Black Keys, saying, “There are kids at school who dress like everybody else, because they don’t know what to do, and there are musicians like that, too. I’ll hear TV commercials where the music’s ripping off sounds of mine, to the point I think it’s me. Half the time, it’s The Black Keys,” adding, “There’s a whole world that’s fine with the watered-down version of the original.”
Then, White took aim at Lana Del Rey and Adele.
“Some people will hear that and say, ‘Oh, Jack White thinks he’s the first person to play the blues,’” he told Rolling Stone. “But certain acts open up a market for a certain style. Amy Winehouse: Did she invent white soul? Wearing a beehive? No. But she did something brand new and fresh, altogether as a package, and you see who’s in her wake, from the Duffys to the Lana Del Rays.” He went on: “Adele selling 20 million records? That would not have happened if Amy Winehouse was alive. The White Stripes did the same thing, and in our absence, you’re gonna find someone to fill that. And you get a band like The Black Keys, who said they never heard of the White Stripes? Sure.”
He also took some swipes at his former White Stripes sidekick—and ex-wife—Meg White.
“I don’t think anyone talks to Meg,” he said. “She’s always been a hermit. When we lived in Detroit, I’d have to drive over to her house if I wanted to talk to her, so now it’s almost never.” He went on, adding, “She’s one of those people who won’t high-five me when I get the touchdown…She viewed me that way of ‘Oh, big deal, you did it, so what?’ Almost every single moment of the White Stripes was like that.”
“I remember hearing Ringo Starr say, ‘I always felt sorry for Elvis, because in the Beatles we had each other to talk about what it felt like. Elvis was by himself.’ I was like, ‘Shit, try being in a two-piece where the other person doesn’t talk!’”
Now, White has issued a lengthy written apology on his website. In the post, titled “An Apology and Explanation From Jack White,” the musician addressed the various incendiary comments he made to Rolling Stone.
“It seems like it’s becoming obvious that to continue the activities I have planned for the rest of my year as a musician, and not be hounded by nonsense throughout those experiences, I should make a statement to clear up a lot of the negativity surrounding things I’ve said or written, despite the fact that I loathe to bring more attention to these things.”
On The Black Keys Beef:
“I felt in a way forced into talking about very private opinions of mine… I wish the band The Black Keys all the success that they can get… Lord knows that I can tell you myself how hard it is to get people to pay attention to a two piece band with a plastic guitar, so any attention that The Black Keys can get in this world I wish it for them, and I hope their record stays in the top ten for many months and they have many more successful albums in their career.”
On all the other singers he took shots at:
“I wish no slight to the talents of Winehouse, Duffy, Lana Del Rey, and Adele. All of whom are wonderful performers with amazing voices. I have their records and I hope for more success for them all as the years go on. They deserve all they’ve gotten. And, I also would love to state that I personally find it inspiring to have powerful, positive female voices speaking out and creating at all times in the mainstream, and all of those singers do just that, so I thank them.”
On his statements about Meg White:
“Meg White, who I also talked about to Rolling Stone about our working conversations, or lack thereof, is, of course, a musician I’ve personally championed for 15 years. She is a strong female presence in rock and roll, and I was not intending to slight her either, only to explain how hard it was for us to communicate with our very different personalities. This got blown out of proportion and made into headlines, and somehow I looked like I was picking on her. I would never publicly do that to someone I love so dearly.”
“Anyone who can get people to pay attention for more than a second with musical notes in this age, or any age for that matter, deserves credit and applause. Thank you for reading all of this and I hope that the nonsense started by lawyers and strangers to me and perpetuated by tabloid journalism can be left behind, and all of the musicians can move forward in positivity. So, God bless The Black Keys, Danger Mouse, Adele, Meg White, and anyone else I’ve spoken about, and thank you for understanding. Good fortune to all of them, and I’m sorry for my statements hurting anyone.”