There are a lot of reverential descriptors that get tossed around when discussing Jack White: virtuoso multi-instrumentalist, critical darling, award-winning musician - we could go on. One phrase that’s rarely used, however, is “easy to get along with.”
That’s largely due to the fact that the charismatic frontman has engaged in countless petty feuds and even physical fights with everyone from fellow musicians to cellphone-using fans. Given the sheer number and variety of Jack White's beefs, keeping track of them is something of a chore.
Here’s a comprehensive list of all of Jack White’s many disagreements, from major beefs to minor squabbles. By no means do we begrudge the White Striper his beefs - but we do think it's fun to tally them.
In a series of back-and-forths, White and garage rocker Billy Childish traded accusations of plagiarism, lack of originality, and all around bad faith. The spat began when Childish mentioned his distaste for The White Stripes in an interview with GQ.
Shortly after, White addressed Childish in a public post on The White Stripes’ website, saying “As for Billy Childish, Meg and I really feel sorry for you. It must be lonely sitting in all of that garage rock bitterness Billy. You know children, when you take someone else’s music and put your own lyrics on top of it, it’s still called plagiarism.”
Not entirely content to let such an accusation hang in the open, Childish said White’s response “smack[ed] of jealousy,” after which the feud fizzled.
2007: DJ Electra
Before the release of The White Stripes’ sixth and final studio album, Icky Thump, one Chicago-based DJ broadcasted her station’s advance copy in its entirety. Naturally, some enterprising listeners recorded the broadcast, leading to a poor-quality leak of the entire album a full two weeks before its scheduled release date.
When word got out, Jack White was frustrated enough to call into the station and chew out DJ Electra for being “messed up for the entire music business.” Things ultimately fizzled after the proper release, which got the correct-quality album into the wider world.
While performing in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with The Dead Weather, White took on a group that likely comprised a good deal of his audience: vegans. Without any obvious prompting, White went after animal rights advocates at the show, saying, “Any other vegans in the crowd out there? Come on stage and we’ll kill a cow together.”
While the band’s set received broad praise, White’s critical aside raised a bit of a fuss with the local vegan and music press.
2010: Guinness World Records
In a strange bid to obtain the record for the shortest music concert ever, The White Stripes played a single note on a Newfoundland stage in 2012. However, things got heated when White contacted Guinness World Records.
Guinness judges deemed White's efforts too trivial for inclusion in its annual roundup, which the singer took characteristically poorly. Speaking about the rejection, he described Guinness as an “elitist organization” that does “nothing scientific.” Not content to let things lie, White did go on to obtain the Guinness record for the fastest record release.