As a band that revitalized rock'n'roll the way Sleater-Kinney did here in the Pacific Northwest, I have to thank Jack & Meg White for generating more excitement than any old pooh could have in popular music, and for impacting everything around them--back then, not an easy feat for a two person band on an indie label. And it may never happen again, unless a new and viable music industry model emerges.
Okay, I didn't kill the White Stripes, but you know how you go to a sports event to see a favorite team, and they lose, and then you rationalize that if you would have stayed home instead, the team would have won? As I did my annual all-Michigan show last week on KAOS-FM and played the White Stripes' "The Big Three Killed My Baby" between the Woolies and MC5, I had no idea it was the last time for them as a living band.
Thanks to my friend Willy Wilson, whose credits include Detroit-based music promoter, rock/R&B historian and radio host, for giving me the Stripes' 1999 debut (on the label Sympathy for the Record Industry) not long after it was released. By 2001, KAOS received a copy of White Blood Cells (with the Sympathy imprint), as word of their powerful sound was spreading. I went into my local record store to buy the missing release, 2000's De Stijl, and heard the coolest comment from the cashier there: "That band has saved rock'n'roll."
Just one more anecdote: Around the time their catalog was re-released on a bigger scale, the White Stripes were exploding nationally and beyond. They did a show at Olympia's Capitol Theater in June 2002; perhaps I had to work, but I missed something that I shouldn't have. By 2003, a woman called me at my commercial radio gig (KXXO), saying something like, "I know you don't play the White Stripes on this station, but do you have tickets to give away for their Seattle concert? My kids haven't been able to get any."
I told the woman I was sorry--no tickets. "Did your children go to last year's White Stripes show in Olympia?," I asked. "Olympia?," she repeated, in disbelief. Then the woman starting laughing: "Yeah, in Olympia, right," still not convinced that they'd actually come to Oly.
The White Stripes are dead--long live the White Stripes. Now take my name off the
"wanted: killer of rock'n'roll" posters at the post office.