Detroit born Jack White is the ultimate Renaissance man. He is an aficionado on guitar, drums, piano, a master songwriter, and recording maven. He has worked with artists such as Beyoncé, Neil Young, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Jay-Z, Nas, The Rolling Stones, and more. But what makes him so special? Here are 10 reasons why.
1. His record company, Third Man Records, also has a publishing division, Third Man Books.
The Third Man Records location in Nashville hosts readings and workshops for local writers in the Blue Room. They publish books and chapbooks that have the same range as White’s music: tender as a warm bath or wild as a bat out of hell. Third Man Books is also the publisher of his new book, which brings us to number two.
2. He is publishing his first children’s book this November.
“Ren & Stimpy” animator Elinor Blake illustrated the picture book We’re Going to be Friends. Blake stuck to the classic White Stripes color scheme: red, black, and white. The words are based on the lyrics of the White Stripes hit “We’re Going to Be Friends”. Two versions of the hit is coming out, one sung by the illustrator whose stage name is April March, and one by the The Woodstation Elementary School Singers. The book hits the shelves on November 6th, but can be pre-ordered here.
3. He holds the Guinness Record for releasing The World’s Fastest Record.
He recorded the 7” for Record Store Day on April 19, 2014. White performed “Lazaretto” live, pressed, assembled, and made it available for sale at Third Man Records in just under 4 hours.
4. Buzz Aldrin once interviewed him for Interview magazine.
Interview coordinated the conversation between the second man on the moon and our Nashville hero. The unlikely pair had very little in common except for a love and deep curiosity in space. Jack revealed in this interview his plans for our next list item.
5. White organized the first vinyl record playing in space.
The space-proof record player was attached to a high-altitude balloon called Icarus Craft and was sent into the ether playing a recording of Carl Sagan’s “A Glorious Dawn”. If a record plays in space and nobody hears it, did it still play?
6. Rolling Stone’s ranked him Number 17 on the Greatest Guitarists of All Time.
Rock journalist David Fricke called him the “hottest thing on six strings” and listed him just behind Johnny Ramone and Carlos Santana. Fricke didn’t hesitate to add, “White is not a clean soloist. He’s a blowtorch.” We consider that a compliment.
7. For their 20th anniversary, White released the first ever performance and recording of The White Stripes.
The album is called Bastille Day after July 14th, the same day they first played an open mic night at the infamous Gold Dollar in Detroit in 1997. Additionally, White released it on the same day 20 years later. The recording includes “Jimmy the Exploder”, “St. James Infirmary” and “Love Potion #9”.
8. His new PBS docu-series American Epic invites music legends to play and discuss the origin of, you guessed it, recording.
White served as executive producer of the three-part series with T Bone Burnett and Robert Redford. White invites music icons to explore and utilize music recording machinery from the 1920s. The series includes live performances and recordings featuring Alabama Shakes, Beck, Elton John, Willie Nelson, and more. Legacy Records and Third Man Records are both releasing the one-take live performances called The American Epic Sessions.
9. As a boy, he wanted to join the military or the Catholic Church.
And only didn’t because they wouldn’t let him bring his amp. White grew up in a devoutly religious family and served as an altar boy. The youngest of 10 children, his childhood was portrayed as unsupervised and disorganized in the biography Jack White: How He Built an Empire from the Blues by Nick Hasted. White claimed that he craved a regimented and disciplined way of life compared to what he was born into.
10. He appeared on Beyoncé’s Lemonade.
Did we need to remind you? White told NPR that Bey approached him about the album. “I think she has the kind of soul singing voice of the days of Betty Davis or Aretha Franklin. So, I was really happy to work with her.” When it comes to collaborations with Mr. White, nothing is impossible.
Jack White has been called “rock & roll’s Willy Wonka” by Rolling Stones and it’s no wonder why. This eclectic and bizarre resume has us guessing what he’ll do next.