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Jack White: Without the Stripes, There'd Be No Black Keys

White explains his comments about the Keys in his Rolling Stone cover story

Jack White
Rick Diamond/WireImage
May 30, 2014 3:40 PM ET

UPDATE: Jack White has issued a statement regarding his below comments in Rolling Stone

At this point, you practically need a scorecard to keep track of the feud between Jack White and the Black Keys, which had been simmering for years but finally boiled over in 2013, after White accused the Keys of riding his coattails in a series of leaked e-mails.

Blues Genes: 15 of Jack White's Biggest Influences

Black Keys' drummer Patrick Carney addressed those e-mails in the May 22nd issue of Rolling Stonesaying that, while he thought White "sounds like an asshole," he had sympathy for his presumptive foe because he'd written the messages while in the midst of a custody dispute with ex-wife Karen Elson. As Carney put it: "We've all said fucked-up shit in private, and divorce is hard."

So consider the beef buried, right? Not so fast. Because in the current Rolling Stone cover story, White speaks at length about those e-mails. And he didn't back down from his stance about the Black Keys.

"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 says. "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."

He continues:

"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."

At press time, there was no word on which side Justin Bieber is taking. Though we can probably guess.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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