The White Stripes began as part of a late-Nineties garage-rock revival, but the duo's music and concept — a once-married couple who pretended to be siblings and wore alternating red-and-white outfits – was always bigger than the lo-fi rock & roll of a typical garage band. Jack and Meg White created such a buzz on the underground music scene of the early-2000s that their third album, White Blood Cells, managed to climb to Number 61 on the Billboard 200, quite a feat for a raw and abrasive experimental rock band with no bassist and no second guitarist. By 2007, three White Stripes albums had reached the Top Ten and the duo had won several Grammys.
The White Stripes played their first show in July 1997, about nine months after bartender Meg White and upholsterer John Anthony Gillis married and began making music together. Gillis took his wife's last name and a dynamic duo was born. The marriage didn't last but the music did, and the White Stripes — Jack on vocals and guitars and Meg on drums — wound up signing with the indie-rock label Sympathy for the Record Industry, known for its roster of punk and garage rock. The duo's first two albums — The White Stripes and De Stijl — were home-recorded collections of gritty rock, acoustic folk and raw blues, and included a mix of originals along with covers of Bob Dylan, Robert Johnson, Son House and Blind Willie McTell. By the time of their third album, 2001's White Blood Cells, the White Stripes had made a name for themselves with their wacky mythology, striking red and white color scheme and Jack White's accomplished songwriting and guitar playing. When the larger V2 Records label signed the duo and re-released White Blood Cells the following year, the Stripes scored a minor hit with "Fell in Love with a Girl" (Number12, Modern Rock, 2002). By 2002, the White Stripes, along with New York City's The Strokes, were being hailed for bringing a new raw simplicity back to rock & roll.
After the release of Elephant in 2003, the White Stripes seemed to be everywhere — on magazine covers, celebrity news items and year-end best-of lists. The album reached Number Six on the Billboard 200, producing the Modern Rock hits "Seven Nation Army" (Number One Modern Rock, 2003) and "The Hardest Button to Button" (Number Eight Modern Rock, 2003). Meanwhile, Jack White hit the gossip columns due to his brief relationship with actress Renée Zellweger; the White Stripes had to cancel some 2003 tour dates after he and Zellweger were involved in a car accident. In December, White was back in the news, this time charged with assault after a confrontation with Jason Stollsteimer, singer of the garage band Von Bondies, at a Detroit club. He pleaded guilty and was fined $750 and remanded to anger management classes. In August, ROLLING STONE's list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time that year ranked Jack White at a controversial #17, higher than such renowned guitarists as Pete Townshend, Frank Zappa, Eddie Van Halen and even bluesman Lightnin' Hopkins. Elephant wound up taking two awards – Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rock Song for "Seven Nation Army" — at the 2004 Grammys.
White, in 2004, produced country legend Loretta Lynn's 2004 album Van Lear Rose (Number Two, Country) after the White Stripes had covered her 1972 Number one hit "Rated X" for an early b-side.
The following year, the White Stripes expanded their sound on Get Behind Me Satan (Number Three pop, 2005), with heavy use of instruments like piano and marimbas, and a bigger, more metal-like guitar sound on tracks like "Blue Orchid" (Number Seven Modern Rock, 2005). But the basic, stripped-down sound remained the same, even if Jack White's voice was sounding curiously like that of Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant. The duo nabbed another Best Alternative Music Album at the 2006 Grammy Awards. Meanwhile, White and his new wife, model and singer Karen Elson, moved to Nashville and the guitarist formed a new band, the Raconteurs. But rumors of the White Stripes' demise were quelled when he and Meg moved to Warner Bros. Records and returned to the studio for 2007's Icky Thump (Number Two, 2007). That album continued the expanded sound of Get Behind Me Satan, featuring bagpipes, horns and some prog-rock-like song structures. The first single, "Icky Thump" (Number One Modern rock, Number 26 Pop, 2007), which featured White's most political lyrics ever, criticized white American intolerance of Spanish-speaking immigrants. In September 2007, the duo canceled its tour, citing Meg White's "acute anxiety." The following year, the White Stripes were nominated for four more Grammys including Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rock Song for "Icky Thump." Jack White also has appeared in several films including a small part in 2003's Cold Mountain, Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes (with Meg) the same year, and the role of Elvis Presley in 2007's Walk Hard.
On February 2nd, 2011, the band officially ended and announced they will make no further new recordings or perform live.
The reason is not due to artistic differences or lack of wanting to continue, nor any health issues as both Meg and Jack are feeling fine and in good health.
It is for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve What is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way.