On Feb. 2, the popular rock duo The White Stripes officially called it quits after a long hiatus from recording.
In the wake of the band’s demise, they leave behind a decade of great albums, music videos and performances.
While frontman Jack White and drummer Meg White have been a part of many creative ventures outside of the band, if it weren’t for The White Stripes’ fame, there’s a chance they would never have become the pop culture icons they are now.
Here we look at a few of the albums, music videos and appearances that are essential for both curious new fans and long-time supporters of The White Stripes’ work.
Following the breakthrough success of their second album, 2001’s “White Blood Cells,” the group chose not to rush out an album simply to capitalize on their newfound fame.
Instead, 2003’s “Elephant” took two long years to make its way to people’s ears. Once it did, it instantly became the Stripes’ most successful and critically acclaimed album to date.
“Elephant” includes songs like “Seven Nation Army,” which became a major hit on mainstream rock radio, as well as tracks like “Black Math” and “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself,” which have become standards at their live shows.
“Get Behind Me Satan” (2005)
While many critics initially contended that “Get Behind Me Satan” was the Stripes’ weakest album, it’s impossible to ignore how much better “Satan” has gotten with age.
While The White have always worn their musical influences with pride, “Get Behind Me Satan” takes those influences and channels them into a definitive White Stripes sound.
Catchy tracks like “My Doorbell” and “The Denial Twist” make great use of piano and drums over the Stripe’s typical electric guitar and drum combination.
Essential Music Videos
“Fell in Love with a Girl” (2001)
Towards the end of the music video reign over MTV, The White Stripes’ “Fell in Love with a Girl” was a certified video hit.
The clip received heavy rotation on the channel, mostly due to its innovative approach of using toy Lego blocks to animate both Jack and Meg performing the song.
The Michel Gondry-directed music video helped put the band in front of millions of American eyes, just as their breakthrough album “White Blood Cells” was beginning to attract attention in the United Kingdom.
“The Hardest Button to Button” (2003)
While the “Elephant” single “Seven Nation Army” offered a video full of enchanting hypnotic visuals, it’s the video for “The Hardest Button to Button” that really represents that album visually.
The video showcases Jack and Meg performing at various locations on the campus of New York’s Columbia University. The driving bass of the track produces an effect that multiplies the band with every note they play.
Directed once again by the imaginative Gondry, the video would become one of the last of the Stripes’ to air on heavy rotation on MTV. The channel that initially offered them mass exposure had now turned its focus away from playing music videos, severing one of the best outlets for the Stripes’ creativity.
Essential Performances and Appearances
“Coffee and Cigarettes” (2003)
Independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch’s 2003 film “Coffee and Cigarettes” showcases a variety of notable talent chatting in a series of short vignettes. Amongst the likes of Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, Bill Murray and Cate Blanchett, the Stripes had an intriguing appearance.
In this particular vignette, Jack shows Meg a Tesla coil he built, based on the ideas of one of his favorite inventors Nikola Tesla. When Meg appears to be unimpressed by Jack’s scientific wonder, he becomes increasingly annoyed.
The hilarious vignette showcased the Stripes’ comedic abilities and played on the fact that they wanted their audience to believe they were siblings. It was eventually revealed that prior to the band’s formation, Jack and Meg were briefly married.
“Under Blackpool Lights” (2004)
“Under Blackpool Lights” was the first official concert film released by The White Stripes. It made its way onto DVD in December 2004, and instantly became a fan favorite.
The White Stripes’ live show was an event to witness, and this concert film tried it’s best to capture the energy of their performances. The entire performance was shot on grainy 16 millimeter film, which helped produce timeless yet haunting visuals.
The show was filmed at the famous English seaside resort of Blackpool, and featured well known Stripes songs, as well as unforgettable covers of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and Son House’s “Death Letter.”
Any performance with Conan O’Brien (2003-Now)
Conan O’Brien has been the most vocal celebrity fan of The White Stripes since their breakthrough in 2001. He appeared in the third Gondry directed music video, “The Denial Twist,” as well as performed a spoken word piece for a special record that was available to members of Jack’s label Third Man.
His personal friendship with Jack and Meg began in 2003, when prior to the release of “Elephant” he allowed the Stripes to play four nights in a row on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”
The White Stripes also closed out his “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” show by playing their much-loved track, “We’re Going to be Friends.” Jack White also appeared to perform a cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Twenty Flight Rock” along with O’Brien on the first episode of his new TBS late night show “Conan.”