First, for those who forgot what Jack White’s beef with the Black Keys is about: Last summer, TMZ obtained an email White sent to his ex-wife, Karen Elson, demanding that their kids be taken out of the Nashville private school they attend with the kids of the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. According to White, the situation gave Auerbach “yet another free reign to follow me around and copy me and push himself into my world.” Earlier this month, Auerbach said that he “didn’t know” White and found his anger “extra-unexpected,” while Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney said that he “actually [feels] embarrassed” for White. Now, rather than let the whole thing die, White has once again insulted the band, this time in an interview with Rolling Stone.
“There are kids at school who dress like everybody else, because they don’t know what to do, and there are musicians like that, too. I’ll hear TV commercials where the music’s ripping off sounds of mine, to the point I think it’s me. Half the time, it’s the Black Keys,” White said. “The other half, it’s a sound-alike song because they couldn’t license one of mine. There’s a whole world that’s totally fine with the watered-down version of the original.” To underscore his point while dragging some other musicians into the matter, he added:
“Some people will hear that and say ‘Oh, Jack White thinks he’s the first person to play the blues.’ But certain acts open up a market for a certain style. Amy Winehouse: Did she invent white soul? Wearing a beehive? No. But she did something brand new and fresh, altogether as a package, and you see who’s in her wake, from the Duffys to the Lana Del Reys,” he says. “Adele selling 20 million records? That would not have happened if Amy Winehouse was alive. The White Stripes did the same thing, and in our absence, you’re gonna find someone to fill that. And you get a band like the Black Keys, who said they never heard of the White Stripes? Sure.”
Now it’s up to the Black Keys to respond, though it seems pretty clear that the best thing for them to do would be to say nothing.
Update: White has posted a long “apology and explanation” to his website. In addition to wishing the Black Keys “all the success that they can get” and calling Duffy, Lana Del Rey, and Adele “wonderful performers with amazing voices,” he wrote that he was sorry for mentioning that he and Meg White barely speak anymore. “This got blown out of proportion and made into headlines, and somehow I looked like I was picking on her,” White explained. I would never publicly do that to someone I love so dearly.” There you have it.