It’s 2023, and the internet has dredged up the debate over Meg White’s drumming abilities thanks to a thoughtless tweet. White, who helped craft the White Stripe’s raw and raucous sound from 1997 to 2011, has often been criticized for her drumming style. Her counterpart, Jack White, took to social media on Wednesday to defend her skills following the fierce debate online after a journalist called her drumming a “tragedy.”
In 2002, White addressed the criticism in a rare interview with Modern Drummer. “I appreciate other kinds of drummers who play differently, but it’s not my style or what works for this band,” she said. “I get [criticism] sometimes, and I go through periods where it really bothers me. But then I think about it, and I realize that this is what is really needed for this band. And I just try to have as much fun with it as possible.”
Twelve years after White retired from music, the discourse around her skills was dragged back out after writer Lachlan Markay who, when commenting on “Seven Nation Army,” tweeted earlier this week: “The tragedy of the White Stripes is how great they would’ve been with a half decent drummer. Yeah yeah I’ve heard all the ‘but it’s a carefully crafted sound mannnn!’ takes. I’m sorry Meg White was terrible.”
On Wednesday, Jack White posted a photo of Meg White, her hair tossed over her face, at the drums. “To be born in another time, any era but our own would’ve been fine. 100 years from now, 1000 years from now, some other distant, different, time,” wrote the lead singer. “One without demons, cowards and vampires out for blood, one with the positive inspiration to foster what is good.”
Questlove also came to the defense of Meg White, writing on social media, “I try to leave ‘troll views’ alone but this right here is out of line af. Actually what is wrong w music is people choking the life out of music like an Instagram filter —trying to reach a high of music perfection that doesn’t even serve the song (or music). This is why I walk that Dilla path and play like a drunken sloppy af amateur because them flaws is the human element in music that is missing. Real film >>>>>>> IG filter photo.”
Musician Karen Elson, who married Jack White following his divorce from Meg White, had harsher words for the hapless writer: “Not only is Meg White a fantastic drummer, Jack also said the White Stripes would be nothing without her. To the journalist who dissed her, keep my ex husband’s ex wife name out of your f*cking mouth. (Please and Thank You)”
Markay has since apologized after a wave of backlash from music journalists, musicians, and fans. “By now you’ve probably seen an ill-advised (and since-deleted) tweet I sent out yesterday about the White Stripes and Meg White,” he wrote on Twitter. “It was an over-the-top take on TWS and White as a drummer, and was, let’s face it, just truly awful in every way. Petty, obnoxious, just plain wrong.”
Meg White, whose art and sheer talent defined one of the most important bands of the 21st century, did not reply to Rolling Stone’s request for comment. Let’s hope that this recent debate can finally be laid to rest.