This week’s magazine is a White Stripes special tribute issue, marking fourteen years of glorious rock and roll noise. Today we’re looking back through the band’s career through the prism of the NME photographer’s lens, beginning with their first cover back in August 2001.
NME photographer Pieter M Van Hattem was invited up into the White Stripes’ attic studio, at the top of Jack’s house in Detroit in 2001, the year of White Blood Cells and their big breakthrough.
Three months later, on 3rd November 2001, The White Stripes bagged their second NME cover. We investigated the endless wedding / sibling rumours and talked to them about signing to XL. Looks like we ran a feature on Craig David too.
Jack White onstage in Brighton, November 2001. By this time the media hype started by NME in SXSW had reached as far as the tabloids, with The Mirror calling The White Stripes “the greatest band since the Sex Pistols”.
The White Stripes made their third appearance on the NME cover on the issue dated 31st August 2002, following the Reading & Leeds festival. The Strokes headlined the Main Stage on the Friday night (in Reading) but it was The White Stripes much further down the bill (below Pulp, Janes Addiction and Weezer) who really stole the show.
NME photographer Andy Willsher drains the red and white out of Jack White for this greyscale shot in 2002. Read the story of our decade long love affair with the band over on the comment section.
Cover Number Four, on 20th November 2002. Jack White topped our first ever Cool List, while Meg followed close behind in sixth place. Who was inbetween? The Strokes’ Fabrizio Moretti, The Datsuns’ Dolf De Datsun, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O, and The Streets’ Mike Skinner.
2002 saw The White Stripes’ debut performance at Glastonbury. NME photographer Andy Willsher was on stage to capture all the action as Jack and Meg played to Worthy Farm early on the Saturday afternoon.
Their fifth appearance on the cover of the magazine (and the shot we’ve used for this week’s issue) came in March 2003. During our interview the band talked about the reaction to their fourth album ‘Elephant’ and how Jack was at the time trying to survive being 27, the year of the rock and roll death.
Another shot from the photo session for the March 2003 cover feature. NME’s John Mulvey reviewed their new album ‘Elephant’ inside this issue, declaring “all of the excitement we want from rock’n’roll is here, and miraculously, few of the clichés” and awarding the LP 9/10. Grab this week’s mag for our reappraisal of their back catalogue.
The 27th September 2003 issue saw NME travel to San Francisco to speak to Jack White ten weeks after breaking his finger in a car accident, and to watch their comeback gig. We also talked about their infamous (at the time) beef with fellow Detroit band The Von Bondies.
Photographer Andy Willsher was on hand in San Francisco to cover the comeback gig too. During the show, badges reading “welcome back Jack” were thrown on the stage, and the whole stage crew wore black suits with red ties.
The next time The White Stripes appeared on the cover of NME, they were taking your questions, although back then queries were sourced via our letters page or email address, rather than through Twitter. Check out our run down of their discography online now.
The White Stripes in San Francisco, 2003. Jack’s finger had barely recovered from his car accident (which took place with girlfriend at the time Renée Zellweger).
The White Stripes bagged another Reading & Leeds cover in 2004. However this time, they weren’t fifth on the bill – they were headlining. Dan Martin discussed why we were all excited for their show. The piece ended with a quote from Jack: “When the band ends, I don’t know what I’m going to do”.
Sure enough, their Reading festival headline slot was phenomenal. Andy Willsher captured the magic onstage. Read our recollections of the festival online.
Two weeks later, in September 2004, the band were back on the cover as NME’s Julian Marshall spoke to them (ok, Jack mostly) about press intrusion, producing Loretta Lynn, and the forthcoming fifth album.
May 2005, and the band were back on the cover. Two months before ‘Get Behind Me Satan’ was released we travelled to Mexico to catch up with the band and record Meg interviewing Jack. The Q&A didn’t make much sense…
We interviewed the band for another cover feature in November 2005. It was to be an explosive chat in which Jack labelled his fans “spoilt” and laid into Detroit, liars and school bullies.
The White Stripes electrified Glastonbury in 2005, after a day of torrential rain. In fact, apologising about the weather was pretty much the only thing Jack said during the set.
The world’s first ‘Icky Thump’ interview appeared in the 12th May issue of NME in 2007. During the conversation, Jack complained “it’s not easy to get hold of Meg. I have to send out radio transmissions to people who are near her.”
This shot from inside the issue, taken in Nashville by Dean Chalkley, was captioned with the wooden horse talking and introducing readers to the piece. Not sure why we thought that was a good idea…
The last ever White Stripes cover before they split came in June 2007, when NME offered a free 7″ of their track ‘Rag And Bone’, from their ‘Icky Thump’ album. Inside, the band talked horse riding, hidden backwards messages, and their love of all things Cockney.