In defense of Meg White, the iconic (and talented) drummer of the White Stripes

It’s 2023 and we’re still talking about Meg White’s musicianship

Meg White of The White Stripes during Bonnaroo 2007 - Day 3 - The White Stripes at Which stage in Manchester, Tennessee, United States. (Photo by Amy Whitehouse/FilmMagic for Superfly Presents) (Amy Whitehouse/, Getty Images.)

The year is 2023, and I still can’t believe we’re having the conversation about if Meg White, the drummer from the White Stripes, is good or not.

Meg White’s merit as a drummer was brought up recently on social media by journalist Lachlan Markay, whose Twitter bio says that he’s a “bad music take haver.” At least he’s self aware enough to know that about himself.

Markay wrote in the now self-deleted tweet, “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 and no band is better for having sh***y percussion.”

The negative tweet even prompted her bandmate and ex-husband, Jack White, to send her some love on support on his Instagram account.

The author of the tweet has since apologized for his extremely bad hot take, but that didn’t stop the internet from doing its thing. People on Twitter were quick to come to Meg White’s defense, pointing out how sexist, misogynistic and tired his opinion is.

People who come for Meg White argue that her drumming was basic and elementary. She doesn’t use that many fills, and sometimes the beat never changes. People like to think that her bandmate and ex-husband, Jack White, just handed her some drumsticks and let her in the band because he wanted to.

That very well could be the case, but Meg White’s simple drum patterns was the point of the White Stripes’ sound. You have Jack White, who shreds on his guitar with catchy riffs and tons of distortion, and then you have Meg White, who keeps the beat grounded and steady.

The White Stripes started out as a garage rock band from Detroit, and anyone who has listened to garage rock knows that is part of the style and sound of the genre.

Without Meg White on the drums, it wouldn’t be the sound of the White Stripes. And if you listen to Jack White’s solo work, the drumming is slightly different. There are more fills and things like that. You can tell she’s not the one behind the drum kit. Meg White’s drumming was loud, raucous and primal. She hit the drums and cymbals strong and true. It was her own sound that is hard to be replicated.

It’s also interesting that Meg White gets flack for being a basic drummer, yet a lot of Jack White’s guitar lines aren’t overly complicated. Take “Seven Nation Army” for example. That entire riff is so simple to learn. When I took bass guitar lessons in middle school, that and “Smoke on the Water” were the first two guitar lines I learned. Yet somehow, Meg White is the one who gets criticized for being simple.

Meg White has disappeared from being a musician, and looking back at what music journalists said about her in the early 2000s, it’s no surprise. She faced a tidal wave of sexism back then, especially from the music outlet Pitchfork. In two separate reviews of their albums “Elephant” and “The White Stripes,” she is described as “sloppy” and “pancake handed.”

In another Pitchfork review of the band’s 2001 album “White Blood Cells,” the writer offers sexist tropes about Meg White, saying “She appears the prototypical indie girl — waifish, with pigtails and a nasty smirk. Yet she whips all of her 98 pounds into a tornadic fury like E. Honda’s hundred-hand slap.”

It was nice that the writer acknowledged she plays the drums hard, but women can be feminine and play the drums with force at the same time. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

Another argument was that she had no training before getting behind a drum set. Excuse me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that kind of the point of joining a punk rock band? Sure there are plenty of artists who took guitar lessons as a little kid, but there are plenty who taught themselves their instruments. Kurt Cobain taught himself guitar. Can you even imagine someone bringing that up as a negative for him? It would never happen.

Others on Twitter have brought up the fact that Meg White no longer is a musician, and hasn’t made a public appearance anywhere in well over a decade. She has removed herself from the conversation, so why do people on the internet feel the need to bring it up? This is a debate that’s older than some people in Gen Z. It’s like give it up already!

This is a woman who has won four Grammy awards and will most likely be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame later this year. What more does she have to prove to people? She’s retired from the public eye, so just let her be.

Speaking of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there are only two drummers that are woman that have been inducted (Moe Tucker of the Velvet Underground and Gina Schock of The Go-Go’s). If the White Stripes are inducted, she will be the third. If we want more women to be in music, especially rock music, we have to stop putting down female musicians over false equivalencies.

Those close to the White Stripes have even spoken up in support of Meg White. Questlove of the Roots sent out a scathing tweet, writing “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).”

Questlove makes an excellent point here. Sure, Meg White’s drumming probably wouldn’t fit for a different band, but she was the perfect drummer for the White Stripes.

Jack White’s ex-wife, Karen Elson, perhaps had the best response to this how ordeal, writing, “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).”

They say the perfect tweet doesn’t exist, yet I’d immediately point them to Elson’s.

All of this being said, it’s time to just leave Meg White alone. I honestly can’t believe I’ve written over 1,000 words about this subject, yet here I am. For the record, I’m happy to defend Meg White, and I’ll do it all day long, but there has to come a time where this we just let this conversation go.

Long live the White Stripes, and long live Meg White, preferably away from all this unnecessary discourse and online hate.

About the Author:

Jack is a Digital Content Editor with a degree in creative writing and French from Western Michigan University. He specializes in writing about movies, food and the latest TV shows.