Jack White

Earlier today, we reported the disturbing news that Karen Elson, Jack White’s ex-wife, had filed a restraining order against him, alleging, among other things, that White wanted his kids out of a class with another musician’s kids, since he felt that this other musician had “ripped off” his music. The initial report didn’t name the other musician, but thanks to some emails that were used in court, we now know who that musician is. It’s Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach. Here’s what White wrote:

my concern with auerbach is because i dont want the kids involved in any of that crap. you aren’t thining ahead. that’s a possible twelve fucking years i’mg going to be sitting in kids chairs next to that asshole with other people trying to lump us in together. he gets another freee reign to follow me around and copy me and push himself into my world.

This is obviously intense and controlling behavior, and it doesn’t seem like a great way to make parenting decisions. But you can at least see where the “rip me off” talk comes from. TMZ has all the emails in question. They’re harsh and personal and really not meant for our consumption, but, I mean, they’re there. Try to not look.

UPDATE: According to Rolling Stone, White has filed a countermotion objecting to claims he harassed Elson and is an unfit parent. “The reason for filing this response is that Mr. White does not want to be portrayed as something he is not, violent toward his wife and children,” it reads. It also points out that Elson left their children in White’s care for 10 days after she signed her restraining order affidavit. “One who was truly fearful of another would not leave their children alone with that person for 10 days,” the countermotion says. “The truth of the matter is that Ms. Elson is not fearful for herself or the parties’ minor children.”

Comments (107)
  1. Thanks, I was wondering who the unnamed artist was. That’s some great sleuthing, Stereogum puts the Gum in Gumshoe.

  2. If Jack has these feelings about Dan it does make sense that he wouldn’t want his children in the same school.. I mean there are thousands of schools to choose from. I don’t know that his “rip off” claims are founded, but that’s kind of irrelevant. I didn’t read all the e-mails, but from what is shown here, this shit is being blown out of proportion. A father (the man supporting the children) should have 50% input on where his kids go to school.

  3. Jack needs to get off his high horse. All of his bands play songs that sound like they could’ve been written by Led Zeppelin.

  4. “And, Dan’s kids said to my kids, ‘your dad dresses funny’”

  5. I think Dan should have had Jack in the “Tighten Up” video.. Maybe they can recreate it.

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  7. I love you Jack, but come on man… :(

  8. Gotta admit I’ve always kind of thought of the Black Keys as a poor man’s White Stripes, but someone needs to tell Jack White that he didn’t invent the blues.

    • comment of the week.

    • Except for the Flat Duo Jets, there aren’t a lot of guitar and drum duos that come to mind, so I don’t blame Jack for thinking the Black Keys ripped him off. I mean even their name seems like an unoriginal variation of The White Stripes. The Black Keys debut came out about a year after White Blood Cells, which was the White Stripes breakthrough album, so I think influence was definitely there.

    • I’ve never really understood the comparison other than similar names and the guitar/drum set up. They are both heavily blues influenced, but to me it’s kind of like comparing Led Zeppelin and CCR. Sure, there’s some overlap, but they’re really not all that similar.

  9. Leave Jack alone! He is a living legend! I saw him buy a taco one time!

  10. I love Jack and his music, much more so than the amount I like Dan Auerbach and the Black Keys, but his ego is out of control here. Jack has admitted many times over that the Flat Duo Jets (more specifically Dex Romweber) are the ones who inspired him to make a bluesy/garage duo with just a guitar player and a drummer. He wouldn’t be anyone today if he hadn’t copied that format with The White Stripes after he was kicked out of The Go. Not to mention all the Blues/Blues rock acts he is influenced by!

    Does Jack really think he is the only person in the world to have heard Son House and felt inspired by Death Letter Blues?

    • aaaand stole another band a few hrs north’s NAME? …style? guitar/drum bare bones setup and retro guitars? yeah pure coincidence. and you will NEVER be able to say otherwise either for the simple fact the Stripes came out FIRST…no matter what they say as an excuse, you came later and you can never prove originality unless you have some tapes from 10th grade where you’re doing the same stuff.

  11. “I can tell that we’re (never) going to be friends…”

  12. Lots of crazy stuff gets accused in custody battles. I wish you wouldn’t go all Surfer Blood over the guy when nothing has been proven yet. It’s a strategy of custody attorneys to encourage clients to make up or exaggerate claims in order to get a leg up or force a settlement.

    I enjoy schadenfreude as much as the next person but calling the news disturbing, or concluding anything negative about him, seems a little out of line so far.

  13. Maybe it’s because I’ve never liked the White Stripes and I’m an Akron girl who has loved the Keys since they were playing $5 shows at the Spider, but Jack is an idiot. Jack just wishes he could be half as good as Dan.

  14. I’m just glad the lead singer of the Von Bondies doesn’t have kids Jack’s kids age.

  15. fucking called it!

  16. In related news, the guy from the Flat Duo Jets doesn’t want his kid playing with Jack White’s kid.

  17. *facepalm*…..Love Jack and all, but…..c’mon man

  18. “…and my kids weren’t anywhere NEAR his…”

  19. i am SO GLAD this has come out…this whole time I thought Jack was fine with his lil copycat protégés from that loser state to the south doing what they’re doing. I love it when ripoff acts make it SO obvious what they’re doing…HMM retro bare bones sound, just like a band from up north…DUO drums n guitar, just like that band up north all over MTV etc…instead of THE White stripes, they’re THE Black keys…hmmmmmmm, nope can’t see ANY similarities there.

    • So I guess you’ve never run across The Flat Duo Jets, The Cramps or The Gories…because if you had you’d know that Jack White didn’t just pull all his ideas out of the air. The Gories even put a chick behind the drum set, playing simple kick/snare kind of stuff, and Mick Collins the lead singer liked to dress up like a schoolboy.

      I love The Dead White Stripes Weather feat. The Raconteurs, and I couldn’t have picked better influences myself, but as long as we’re pointing fingers here…

    • “…that loser state to the south.” I can’t imagine what utopian state you hail from, Davey Pants, but I’m sure it’s full of rich, educated people who produce nothing but the best and shit on everyone else’s efforts. Since you decided to diss the great state of Tennessee on a music site, especially in a discussion that’s turned into a conversation about originality and musical heritage, what’s so “loser” about contributing more to American music than any other state in the country? Time to do your homework, son.

  20. Ha, I knew it! After reading the initial report, I thought to myself, “White Stripes ripoff? That’s gotta be the Black Keys.” To be honest, their obvious debt to Jack White annoys me much less than their decision to have some chick double the main melody an octave up in EVERY song of theirs I’ve heard*. A few months ago, I heard “Little Black Submarines” for the first time on the radio** and was all, “Wow, a Black Keys song that doesn’t have some chick doubling the…no…NO NO NO NO NO NO!”

    *I’ve never listened to an entire Black Keys Album…just the singles.
    **Audio cable was busted. Special thanks to Philly’s Radio 104.5 for reminding me why I hate the radio.

  21. I’m so ashamed of myself for reading all those emails at TMZ just now. So ashamed. It goes against everything that Jack White stands for. And I really like Jack White.

    I hope they can work everything out like adults and settle things in a respectable fashion. I feel for the kids…

  22. I hear where they’re both coming from. I do think Auerbach was greatly influenced by White. But he still had the right to make blues-garage-rock at a time when it was clearly what music needed. Auerbach followed White to Nashville and like him built his own studio, but Nashville is the best place for people like them to live. Auerbach even followed White’s school choice, but there probably aren’t that many great, convenient schools in Nashville.

    All these decisions made good sense from Auerbach’s perspective, but I can see why White has developed a complex about it. I heard when Auerbach moved to Nashville he tried to be cool about it and popped in to Third Man for a visit, but White came out in the street throwing punches!

  23. And thus Robert Johnson, son of Satan, begat Carl Perkins
    And Carl Perkins, son of Robert Johnson, begat Jimmy Burton
    And Jimmy Burton, son of Carl Perkins, begat Jimmy Page
    And Jimmy Page, son of Carl Perkins, begat Jack White
    And Jack White, son of Jimmy Page, begat Dan Auerbach

    And yea, Jack White told Dan Auerbach to fuck off, because having invented the blues himself, Jack White would tolerate no pretender. And lo, it was all rather petty.

  24. Read the emails, and yeah, he comes off as a hot head and pretty jerky, but the guy is in the middle of a custody batte/divorce where he is in danger of losing custody of his kids. A ton of people say and do stupid things in this kind of situation. Obviously I don’t know the history of their relationship, but based on the emails, I’m surprised that she went for a restraining order. Kind of seems like a way to publicly drag him through the mud before the custody hearings. The guy’s clearly not the most level-headed guy but keep in mind there are two sides to every story, and we are only seeing one side.

    On another note, the Auerbach thing is laughably immature.

  25. Yes because Jack White invented bluesy sounding guitar riffs.

    • I would think he is referring to his penchant for melding punk and blues. No, he isn’t the first to do that either, but after the Gun Club, I don’t think there is anyone who did as much with and for that idea as the White Stripes. It was an idea that I feel kind of fell by the wayside for a long time. The White Stripes found a way to put their own personal stamp on that idea and make it seem new and exciting. There were bands obviously inspired by them who found some success in the wake of White Blood Cells. Jack White has verbally or otherwise promoted a number of those bands that were trying to carve out their own identity within that genre. I rejected the Black Keys from the get-go because I always thought their songs just sounded like a watered-down White Stripes. Maybe that’s how Jack feels, or maybe they actually did swipe melodies. I would be interested to know if the latter is the case. I could sit here and go through the Black Keys’ catalog and find out myself, but ugh, I don’t really feel like it.

  26. Also uncovered by TMZ, a 2011 email from White to Japandroid’s management warning the Canadian drum and guitar duo to “stay the fuck out of Nashville”.

  27. Jack White needs to take a hint from Pat Carney and start talking more smack about Scott Stapp, then everybody will be on your side.

  28. Well, when i listen to the Keys nowadays the White Stripes doesn’t come anywhere near, in terms of souding alike, one artist that comes to mind on the Keys recent output: T-Rex!

  29. Micah. I agree that Bonnie`s article is neat… last week I bought themselves a Saab 99 Turbo since I been earnin $8463 this last five weeks and would you believe, ten thousand last-munth. it’s actualy my favourite-job I’ve had. I began this 10-months ago and straight away startad bringin in at least $82, p/h. I follow the details here,, w­w­w.J­a­m­1­o.c­o­m

  30. Wow. I have to admit that The Black Keys name almost sounded like a composite to The White Stripes, but that’s about where the similarities end. The Black Keys have more soul in their blues and The Stripes more Zep in their step. I like that Jack is a full on super-freak, but he’s awesome as hell. But is it really proper journalism to leak confidential e-mails pertaining to divorce and name the innocent kids caught in the cross-fire? TMZ leaked this and they suck. That’s a mighty invasion of privacy.

  31. I saw the headline a few days ago “ex-wife files for restraining order” and was a little worried that Meg was in jeopardy! Haha.
    But then a little worried, because it portrayed Jack White as paranoid. While this is sensational journalism, and quite an example of celebrities having NO privacy, the transcript of his comments definitely allayed my fears that he was getting weird.

    Also. Fuck The Black Keys.

  32. Everything that is cool about jack white is a complete rip off of billy childish. I thought everyone knew this?

  33. Okay, let’s not forget that these are “private” emails between a guy and his ex-wife. It isn’t like Jack is suing Dan. He didn’t publicly come out and make accusations against Dan. That bears repeating, IMO.

    I don’t like either one of these bands, particularly, but I do like some of the Dead Weather and Raconteurs songs. At least Jack White can make more than one song. I mean, come on Dan. You have like 16 albums with the same song.

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    • errrr, what?!?! Do you actually believe that nonsense or you just out for a nice troll.

      • Uhm, yeah duh. Jack White didn’t “rip him off” persay but he certainly owes him just as much. Black Keys write songs that are tight, well writen, and most of all CATCHY. White Stripes seem to be a ‘joke band’ more than anything, with silly songs like “We Can Tell We’re Gonna Be Friends”. I don’t mind JW or whatever but I don’t think he should be talking shit about Auerbach who is the best musician of our generation as far as I’m concerned

  35. Drives me nuts when people read/hear something second hand about someone “famous”, instantly believe that they actually “know” the person in question, decide they have the right to pass judgment on them and all of sudden start spouting off about how the music/art they’ve loved for over a decade is crap. None of you know Jack White, Karen Elson, Dan Auerbach, the children or the lawyers involved in this REAL LIFE nonsense. Further, I’m sure all of you would be sickened if your personal business was discussed in public in this manner. TMZ is one of the single foulest creations brought forth by the advent of the internet, and their affect on the way human beings behave in general is the lowest of the low. I like Jack White’s music. I’m going to keep liking Jack White’s music. All this other nonsensical bullshit will have absolutely no affect on that.

  36. It kinda makes me wonder, how the hell TMZ get their hands in these Emails and such? The Lawyers leak it? Are all the pieces and documents in the litigation public? In my country, litigation regarding family is always confidential, of course some worker at the court can leak it, but it’s kinda difficult.

  37. Look guys! a new development in the Jack White story! Go here fast:

  38. This doesn’t make any sense…
    My two favorite musicians cant get there shit “together” enough to realize that their music is equally as good and no knock offs what so ever, clever coming up with the black keys after the white stripes or vise verse.. sound like a piano to me…ha
    But anyways if two people, Men at that don’t understand that they both do the thing in life that they enjoy most and bring joy to thousands of people plus! Time to get over it, shake hands like real men, and unite for a bad ass concert Jack white with Dan Auerbach, I think an appropriate title for the concert would be the Grand Pianos LOL!!

  39. Man it kills me to see two great bands tear at eachothers throats and turn into bitter people transformed by fame and fortune.. I really hope, dan, patrick, and jack find peace and push drama aside and just be happy and do what they do best. MAKE AWESOME MUSIC!

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