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Born: December 10, 1974
Biography (via Wikipedia): Megan Martha White was born in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan on December 10, 1974, to Walter Hackett White, Jr. and Catherine White. She grew up in the affluent Detroit suburb with her parents and older sister, Heather. She attended Grosse Pointe North High School and, according to one classmate, was "always the quiet, obviously artistic type, and she just kept very much to herself." While still in high school, she decided not to go to college and instead began to work at Memphis Smoke, a restaurant in downtown Royal Oak, with aspirations of becoming a chef. It was there that she first met budding musician John "Jack" Gillis, a fellow high school senior from a Detroit neighborhood known as Mexicantown, and they frequented the coffee shops, local music venues, and record stores of the area. They began dating and were eventually married on September 21, 1996. Gillis took her last name.
Throughout the 1990s, Jack worked as an upholsterer, but continued to moonlight in several bands, usually as a drummer. According to them, on Bastille Day of 1997, Meg first tried playing on Jack's drumkit. In Jack's words, "When she started to play drums with me, just on a lark, it felt liberating and refreshing. There was something in it that opened me up." The two then began calling themselves The White Stripes (because Meg favored peppermint candies) and soon played their first gig at the Gold Dollar in Detroit. In keeping live performances to three basic elements, Jack did the guitar and vocal work while she played drums.
Jack and Meg presented themselves as siblings to an unknowing public, and keeping to a chromatic theme, dressed only in red, white, and black. They began their career as part of Michigan's underground, garage rock music scene. They played along with and opened for more established local bands such as Bantam Rooster, the Dirtbombs, Two Star Tabernacle, Rocket 455, and the Hentchmen, among others. In 1998, the band signed with Italy Records, a small and independent Detroit-based garage punk label of Dave Buick. The band released its self-titled debut album in 1999, and a year later the album was followed up by the cult classic, De Stijl. The album eventually peaked at number 38 in Billboard's Independent Albums chart. Even as their success as a band was mounting, their personal relationship was faltering, and they were divorced in 2000.
As the White Stripes’ fame spread beyond Detroit, the unconventional band with no bass player and a novice drummer began to be the subject of mixed commentary among critics and fans. Of a 2002 concert in Cleveland, Ohio, Chuck Klosterman said, "[Meg] never grimaced and didn't appear to sweat; yet somehow her drums sounded like a herd of Clydesdales falling out of the sky, one after another. Clearly this is a band at the apex of its power." The Australian called her drumming "simplistic but occasionally explosive," and UK periodical, The Times said that she "reduced the art of drumming to its primary components, bashing the snare and cymbal together on alternating beats with the bass drum in a way that recalled Moe Tucker of the Velvet Underground." On the other hand, the Associated Press called her playing "maddeningly rudimentary." The satirical news site The Onion once featured the headline "Meg White Drum Solo Maintains Steady Beat For 23 Minutes". In reference to her "primal" approach to drumming, she remarked, "That is my strength. A lot of drummers would feel weird about being that simplistic." For his part, Jack has declared her drumming to be the "best part of this band," and called her a "strong female presence in rock and roll." He called her detractors "sexist".
Though Jack usually sang lead vocals, Meg occasionally sang as well, the first time being backup on the record "Your Southern Can is Mine" from De Stijl. She sang lead on four Stripes' songs: "In the Cold, Cold Night", from the album Elephant, "Passive Manipulation" from Get Behind Me Satan, "Who's a Big Baby", the B-side to "Blue Orchid," and "St. Andrew (This Battle Is in the Air)" from Icky Thump. She also sang the popular Christmas song "Silent Night" on the single “Candy Cane Children.” Both Meg and Jack share vocal duties on the tracks "Hotel Yorba" and "This Protector" from White Blood Cells, "Rated X" from the "Hotel Yorba" single, "Well It's True That We Love One Another" on Elephant, and "Rag and Bone" from Icky Thump. Andrew Katchen with Billboard magazine called her vocals "delicate and sweet."
In the summer of 2007, before a show in Southaven, Mississippi, Ben Blackwell (Jack's nephew and the group's archivist) says that Meg approached him and said, "This is the last White Stripes show." He asked if she meant of the tour, but she responded, "No. I think this is the last show, period." On September 11, 2007, the White Stripes announced via their website that they were canceling 18 tour dates due to Meg's acute anxiety. The following day, the duo cancelled the remainder of their 2007 UK tour dates as well.
Jack worked with other artists in the meantime, but Meg remained largely out of the public eye, though in June 2008, she appeared briefly onstage during an encore set of a Detroit show with one of Jack's bands, the Raconteurs. In an interview with Music Radar, he explained that Meg's acute anxiety had been a combination of a very short pre-tour rehearsal time—that was further reduced by the birth of his son—and a hectic, multi-continental touring schedule. He said, "I just came from a Raconteurs tour and went right into that, so I was already full-speed. Meg had come from a dead-halt for a year and went right back into that madness. Meg is a very shy girl, a very quiet and shy person. To go full-speed from a dead-halt is overwhelming, and we had to take a break."
Even so, Jack revealed the band's plan to release a seventh album by the summer of 2009. On February 20, 2009—and on the final episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien—the band made their first live appearance after the cancellation of the tour, performing the song "We Are Going to Be Friends." A documentary about their Canadian tour—titled The White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights—premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 18, 2009. Directed by Emmett Malloy, the film documents the band's summer 2007 tour across Canada and contains live concert and off-stage footage. The duo appeared at the film's premiere and, before the movie started, they made a short speech about their love of Canada and why they chose to debut their movie in Toronto. A second feature titled Under Nova Scotian Lights was prepared for the DVD release.
However, almost two years passed with no new releases, and on February 2, 2011, the band reported on their official website that they were disbanding. The statement emphasized that it was not due to health issues or artistic differences, but "mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band."
White has also appeared on the cover of Whirlwind Heat's single "Pink", in a Detroit Cobras music video "Cha Cha Twist" as Little Red Riding Hood, and appeared with Jack White in a segment of Jim Jarmusch's 2003 film Coffee and Cigarettes.
The White Stripes guest starred on The Simpsons in an episode titled "Jazzy and the Pussycats", which first aired on September 17, 2006. She has done some modeling for Marc Jacobs' 2006 Spring line. Two of her pictures appeared in the March 2006 issue of ELLE.
White was chosen by Bob Odenkirk to compose a drum theme for Dax Shepard's character in the 2006 film Let's Go to Prison. Against Odenkirk's wishes, however, the studio removed it from the film. Ray LaMontagne wrote a song called "Meg White" about the drummer; it appears on LaMontagne's album Gossip in the Grain.
In May 2009, White married guitarist Jackson Smith, son of musicians Patti Smith and Fred "Sonic" Smith. The wedding took place in Nashville, Tennessee, in a small ceremony in Jack White's backyard. White and Smith divorced in July 2013. As of 2014, White resides in Detroit, Michigan.