The White Stripes were a ball of raging flame when they burst on to the scene in the early noughties. With Jack White’s fire-breathing guitar snorting balls of burning fuzz at every opportunity and Meg White’s war-bringing drums, the group were the heaviest around.
Yet, what will go down as their final performance, is altogether a little more reserved. The performance came as part of Conan O’Brien’s final show and saw the duo take on their 2001 song, ‘We Are Going To Be Friends’.
The list of musical stars talk show host and legendary TV personality could have had perform on his final Late Night with Conan O’Brien show was as long as the show’s run on NBC. So, when he and his team were planning you’d imagine a lot of deliberation. But that wasn’t the case, O’Brien knew exactly who he wanted, the evermore reclusive red and white troubadours, The White Stripes.
Back in 2009, when the final show aired, the band had been in relative hiding. Jack White was concentrating on his side projects The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, meanwhile, Meg hadn’t been seen since her anxiety issues had prematurely ended their 2007 tour. If it was for anybody else the band would’ve likely passed on the opportunity. But it was Conan, a host the band had always loved, so they worked hard to make it happen.
“When we were trying to decide out which musical act to feature on the last show after so many years there was one band that was always on the top of my list,” O’Brien said, introducing the band. “I wasn’t sure this could happen. I am personally very thrilled this could happen this evening. Please welcome our good friends for many years, the White Stripes.”
With the introduction ringing out across the airwaves the audience in the studio and at home were expecting the band’s devilish double act to tear their faces off with distortion and bass drums. Instead, the group entered the stage in a curious set up—Meg was on guitar. The band performed a beautiful rendition of their 2001 track ‘We’re Going to Be Friends’, it’s a touching moment between Meg and Jack which sees the duo harmonious in their rendition of the song.
“That meant the world to me,” Conan told them as the final notes finished. O’Brien looked genuinely touched to not only have the band perform but to also have them change so radically for him. “The White Stripes everyone!” he finished.
It would be the final performance the band ever gave. While Jack White was continuing to tell the press that the duo were working on new material the fact was that he was far more concerned with his side projects and Meg’s anxiety was only worsening. Nearly two years to the day after the O’Brien performance, The White Stripes announced their disbandment.
“It is for a myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band and have it stay that way,” read a statement. “Both Meg and Jack hope this decision isn’t met with sorrow by their fans but that it is seen as a positive move done out of respect for the music that the band has created.”
Hopes of a reunion still linger but with Jack White coming about as close as you can to being a rock music mogul and Meg’s mental health issues still keeping her from the spotlight, the likelihood is very low. So, let’s enjoy The White Stripes leaving the stage as they entered it, by shocking us all.