What You Don't Know About Jack White

Jack White is a musician and prolific rock star who has a knack for not only music creation and production, but also branding and business and has forged a unique path in the entertainment world. White first gained notoriety as one-half of the White Stripes, a band he put together with his ex-wife Meg White in his hometown of Detroit. The two were well-known for both their unique style of music and their confusing origin story; many believed that Jack and Meg were brother and sister until it was revealed that they were actually former spouses. 

Jack White has been in numerous other bands before and since the White Stripes disbanded in 2011. His personal life has also been rich; he married model Karen Elson in 2005 and the pair had a daughter and son together before divorcing in 2013. In April 2002, Jack White proposed to his girlfriend Olivia Jean during a concert — and then promptly turned around and married her onstage in the same breath (per PEOPLE). But there is a lot more to know about Jack White.

Jack White planned on becoming a priest

It might be difficult to imagine singer and songwriter Jack White as anything other than, well, Jack White, but there was a time when the former White Stripes front man planned on taking an entirely different life path. As he told The Guardian in April 2022, he was raised Catholic and was very seriously pursuing a lifetime as a priest. At the age of 14 he had been accepted to the seminary, but something stopped him. As he put it, "But something happened to me in that summer. The priests seemed really old and I thought, 'Who's gonna speak for my generation?'"

He added that the church never would have gone through with his transition to the priesthood as he says he never felt truly moved to go all the distance. White adds, "To be fair, they don't turn anyone into a priest unless they really want to be one."

Jack White is part of multiple bands and collaborations

People of a certain generation were introduced to Jack and Meg White via their band the White Stripes, who came onto the scene in 1999. As shared by the Detroit Historical Society, their first album was released that year and was quickly followed by five records released between 2000 and 2007. Though the couple divorced in 2000, they maintained the band until even that fell apart. The White Stripes officially broke up as a band in 2011, by then they'd won three Grammy's for Best Alternative Music Album for their last three albums.

In 2005, Jack debuted The Raconteurs, an alt-rock band based in Nashville, Tennessee. The group released two albums in 2006 and 2008 before members began to pursue additional projects, and Jack White moved on to working with his third band, The Dead Weather, an alt-rock band with a psychedelic bent, releasing three albums. Jack and The Raconteurs reunited in 2020 to release the record "Help Us Stranger" and to tour Canada. Jack told Global News, "Everyone in the band feels really good about it. We really feel it's the best thing we've ever done."

Jack White has his own record label

Jack White's passion for music doesn't begin and end with making records for his own bands — he also owns a record label called Third Man Records, which is based in Nashville, Tennessee. White told It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine that he actually started the label all the way back in 2001 when the White Stripes were thriving, though the label was essentially existing in name and on paper only. As he said, "No employees, no offices, just strictly a business in name alone."

At the time, the label functioned as a way for White to produce his own records and then license those records to larger labels. When all the rights for his music came back to Third Man Records in 2009, White released the music on vinyl through his label. These days, Third Man exists as a record label and a record store. Besides the original location in Nashville, Third Man operates in Detroit, and in September 2022, a third record store opened in London. 

Jack White doesn't let fans use phones at concerts

While Jack White hasn't exactly issued an outright ban on cell phones at his concerts, it's been well known throughout the years that he has strongly, strongly preferred his audiences refrain from using their devices. While White has been no stranger to directly calling out fans from the stage, in 2018 he decided to take a more proactive and sweeping approach to cell phones at shows.

As reported by NME, that year White partnered with Yondr and asked fans to put their phones in pouches provided by the company. The pouches could only be accessed in certain areas in each venue, which helped ensure that the performance space was phone-free. White issued a statement explaining to NME why he was so hyper-focused on phones and the pouches, noting, "We think you'll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while and experience music and our shared love of it IN PERSON."

Jack White and Jay-Z have a song together

Jack White has collaborated with a number of musicians and artists throughout the years, and the music he's produced has crossed numerous genres. While speaking to Zane Lowe for Apple Music in 2022, White hinted at having produced a song with rapper Jay-Z. The pair have yet to release the song, with White mentioning to Lowe that they are "sitting on heat" the longer the song goes unheard. He added that he hopes the song will come out when it really makes sense for it to, explaining, "So some of that stuff will see the light of day when those guys aren't busy with other projects and stuff" (via American Songwriter).

White adds that the process of recording with Jay-Z was new to him. As he explained, he was surprised to walk into the studio and only see one microphone. In the end, both artists walked away with a greater understanding of how the other worked. As White put it, "So Jay was learning about the way I did it, and I was learning about the way he did it. I just like seeing anybody use a method" (via American Songwriter).

Jack White has been married three times

As mentioned earlier in the story, Jack and Meg White were married in 1996 according to Rolling Stone. It's a fun fact that Jack's last name was Gillis and Meg's was White — he took her name after they got married. The two let fans believe they were brother and sister until their marriage certificate was dug up by a Detroit newspaper reporter after their first record came out.

According to Far Out Magazine, Jack White later explained that they decided to come up with a cover story because he felt it would keep everyone's attention on their music instead of their relationship; an ex-wife and ex-husband making music didn't work. Though the pair divorced in 2000, Meg insisted that they keep the band going. 

Jack White married his second wife, British model Karen Elson in 2005. They met when she starred in the White Stripes music video for "Blue Orchid." According to Vogue, they married near the Amazon in Brazil the same year they met, and their daughter Scarlett was born in 2006. A son, Henry, came along in 2007. The couple ultimately split up in 2013. 

In April 2022, Jack married his musician girlfriend Olivia Jean. The pair met in 2009, according to Rolling Stone, when Olivia Jean moved to Nashville to record at Third Man Records. White helped get her all-female trio band, The Black Belles, up and running, per Deadline Detroit, and the band is signed to Third Man's label. 

Jack White co-parents with Elson

Jack White and Karen Elson's kids are being raised in Nashville, Tennessee, where both White and Elson have continued to live following their divorce. Elson told Yahoo! that she loves living in Nashville with the kids, explaining, "I'm more myself here. There are no bells and whistles ... I'm the nerdy, dorky mum who is totally embarrassing."

She went on to add that despite the fact that their parents are a rock star and a model, it's been important to raise them in a way that is more down-to-earth. As she said, "I want them to be their own people and not held to our identities. But I think, because we're both from working-class upbringings, we've managed to keep them grounded."

White is notoriously private when it comes to his children, but in 2010 he did open up about his hopes to take the kids on the road while he toured. As he told The Independent, "Paul McCartney used to take his kids everywhere, never had a nanny I heard. So it can be done, it just becomes part of the scenario."

Jack White's hero is Buzz Aldrin

Jack  White's life isn't only about music. In fact, one of his biggest heroes is Buzz Aldrin, a former American astronaut. While being questioned by Interview Magazine in 2012, White asked if Aldrin could be the person conducting the interview, and the publication and Aldrin happily agreed. The pair appear to have an easy interaction, with Aldrin inquiring as to where on the planet White was at the moment and vice-versa. 

Aldrin also wanted to know where White was from and upon learning the performer grew up in Detroit, Michigan, asked if he had been "beat up a lot." White replied in the negative, adding that he believes it's all about how you present yourself. He said, "I think you learn how to walk down the street in a certain way. I think you just learn to have a way about yourself, a style of walking down the street, that keeps people away from you."

For White's part, he made it clear he'd spent time thinking of "the courage it took to get in that tin can and travel to the moon like you did," he told Aldrin. He also shared his dream of having Third Man make the first vinyl record to ever play in the cosmos — and Aldrin seemed to think it was a definite possibility.  

Jack White was in the movie Cold Mountain

Jack White has also stepped off the performing stage and onto the sound stage. In 2003 he won praises for his role in the Civil War film "Cold Mountain," which also starred Hollywood heavyweights Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, and Renee Zellweger. The movie's director Anthony Minghella told Ireland's RTE National Television and Radio Broadcaster that White was a huge bonus to have on the movie set, as he is multi-talented and brought a lot to the table.

As Minghella told the news outlet, White was initially added for his music, but then the film's team found out he could act so they put him in the role. It turned out to be one of the best decisions they could have made. As Minghella said, "Jack is fantastic in this film. You would never know he is not an actor by profession. He is an absolute natural, tremendous."

Jack White might have a song with Bob Dylan

Jack White has the opportunity to meet singers and songwriters from all over the world, including Bob Dylan. White praised Dylan in 2014 while speaking to Rolling Stone, explaining that the two are quite close. He said, "He's been an incredible mentor to me, and a good friend, tooI'm lucky to even have a conversation with him. Everything else has been icing on the cake."

White he first met said Dylan at a Detroit concert where Dylan was performing. Dylan told White he'd been playing one of his songs at sound checks and asked him to come to play a song at the next concert the following evening. Rather than play one of Bob Dylan's songs, they played the White Stripes' "Ball and a Biscuit. White told the Wall Street Journal, "It's not lost on me that he played one of my songs, not the other way around." In 2015 White was among the performers invited to perform at that year's MusiCares person of the year performance in honor of the legendary singer-songwriter.  

During the 2014 Rolling Stone interview, White was asked if he and Dylan had recorded a song. He explained that as much as he would love to, he could neither confirm nor deny those rumors. As he put it, "I cannot tell you that. I wish that I could, but I cannot."