Ding dong: A Brief History Of… The White Stripes vs The Black Keys

Beef - and unexpected friendship - has been flying around these past 24 hours, but what’s led the two acts to clash in the past?

What’s gone wrong between two of the biggest blues-rock bands in the world? Today an almighty spat unfolded between Patrick Carney of The Black Keys and Jack White of The White Stripes. Carney first accused White of “trying to fight” him in a New York bar last night. White’s retort of “quit whining to the Internet and speak face to face like a human being” seems to have been taken on board by Carney, though, stating that he spoke to the White Stripes vocalist for an hour, leading to things now being “all good”.

In the space of twenty-four hours, Carney and White have seemingly gone from a potential brawl to the beginning of a blossoming friendship. Although it might not be that black and white (ahem).

Clashes between the bands run much deeper than today’s fiasco though, and we’ve gone through the previous spats between the two to try and work out just what they have against each other.

Turn red

In a pretty strange peak to a feud that no-one really understands, e-mails between Jack White and his now-ex-wife Karen Elson were accidentally leaked. In these e-mails, White begged Elson to take their children out of the same class as The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach in an attempt to stop him “following me around and ripping me off”.

The leaking of these conversations was then addressed in a Black Keys interview last year. While Carney, coming to his bandmate’s defence, conceded that “we’ve all said fucked-up shit in private”, and that “divorce is hard”, he said he “feels embarrassed for (White)” and that he “sounds like an asshole”. Oh, what this would start…

A Brief History Of... The White Stripes vs The Black Keys

White swallows his pride

One day last year, Jack White saw it fit to apologise to The Black Keys and, in his own words, “anyone else I’ve spoken about”, in an out-of-the-blue act of trying to set right some of the extensive list of feuds he found himself in.

In an apology which also went back on comments that the likes of Lana Del Rey and Adele ripped Amy Winehouse in the way Auerbach and Carney are doing so to him, White said: “There are a lot of things that only people around me can know about or understand, but despite all of that I want to say this: I wish the band the Black Keys all the success that they can get. I hope the best for their record label Nonesuch who has such a proud history in music, and in their efforts to bring the Black Keys songs to the world. I hope for massive success also for their producer and songwriter Danger Mouse and for the other musicians that their band employs. Lord knows that I can tell you myself how hard it is to get people to pay attention to a two piece band with a plastic guitar, so any attention that the Black Keys can get in this world I wish it for them, and I hope their record stays in the top ten for many months and they have many more successful albums in their career.”

That’s that, right? Dead and buried? Nope.

A Brief History Of... The White Stripes vs The Black Keys

Finding it harder to be gentlemen

Ah, and here we are again. 14th September 2015. Below is a selection of tweets, some of which have since been deleted, from Patrick Carney, accusing White of trying to start a brawl in a New York bar last night.

I’ve never met jack white.
— Patrick Carney (@patrickcarney) September 14, 2015

Until last night.
— Patrick Carney (@patrickcarney) September 14, 2015

He came to a bar in Nyc I go to a lot with a few friends and tried to fight me.
— Patrick Carney (@patrickcarney) September 14, 2015

I don’t fight and don’t get fighting but he was mad!!!
— Patrick Carney (@patrickcarney) September 14, 2015

Not sure what he’s unhappy with cuz I just liked Zeppelin a lot and wanted to play guitar. Cut my pinky off and ended up being a drummer
— Patrick Carney (@patrickcarney) September 14, 2015

Not the best drummer but a passionate one. But any way jack white. A 40 year old bully tried to fight the 35 year old nerd.
— Patrick Carney (@patrickcarney) September 14, 2015

It might get loud but it might also get really really sad and pathetic.
— Patrick Carney (@patrickcarney) September 14, 2015

Jack white is basically billy corgan’s dumb ass zero t-shirt in human form.
— Patrick Carney (@patrickcarney) September 14, 2015

This series of tweets sparked whisper upon whisper of what might or might not have happened, before White finally responded, telling Entertainment Weekly: “Nobody tried to fight you, Patrick. Nobody touched you or ‘bullied’ you. You were asked a question you couldn’t answer so you walked away. So quit whining to the Internet and speak face to face like a human being. End of story.”

Speaking face to face

Face to face - as Jack White stated - or not, the two have obviously talked it out, with Carney tweeting that “all is good”. A response then came again from White’s label Third Man. Maybe everything’s now fine between the blues-rock titans, but the ins and outs of everything that’s brought the two apart and now seemingly back together will be anything but black and white.


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