On July 31st, 2007, the White Stripes played their final concert. The duo returned to the stage — with drummer Meg White on guitar — for Conan O’Brien’s last Late Night show two years later, and two years after that confirmed their split in a surprise announcement that cited a “myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way.”
We all know what Jack White has been up to since then, but it’s been harder to pin down Meg, whose “acute anxiety” was blamed for the early end of the duo’s 2007 tour. Contributing editor Jonah Weiner asked Jack if he’s still in contact with his onetime wife and bandmate during interviews for our new cover story, and White said Meg is indeed still quite elusive.
“I don’t think anyone talks to Meg. She’s always been a hermit,” he said. “When we lived in Detroit, I’d have to drive over to her house if I wanted to talk to her, so now it’s almost never.”
Meg married Jackson Smith, the son of Patti Smith and the late Fred “Sonic” Smith of the MC5, in 2005; Rolling Stone learned the two divorced in July. A request for an interview with her, submitted to her lawyer, was not answered.
White declined to discuss his marriage to Meg, but described her as extremely emotionally reserved. That aspect of her personality frustrated him when the two were in a creative partnership. “She’s one of those people who won’t high-five me when I get the touchdown,” he said. “She viewed me that way of ‘Oh, big deal, you did it, so what?’ Almost every single moment of the White Stripes was like that. We’d be working in the studio and something amazing would happen: I’m like, ‘Damn, we just broke into a new world right there!’ And Meg’s sitting in silence.”
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White recalled a quote from Ringo Starr that rang true to him during those moments. “I remember hearing Ringo Starr say, ‘I always felt sorry for Elvis, because in the Beatles we had each other to talk about what it felt like. Elvis was by himself.’ I was like, ‘Shit, try being in a two-piece where the other person doesn’t talk!'”
Her lack of loquaciousness aside, however, White praised Meg’s drumming and said the world misses her contributions. “I would often look at her onstage and say, ‘I can’t believe she’s up here.’ I don’t think she understood how important she was to the band, and to me and to music,” he added. “She was the antithesis of a modern drummer. So childlike and incredible and inspiring. All the not-talking didn’t matter, because onstage? Nothing I do will top that.”