Meg White performing live in 2005
Meg White performing live in 2005 | Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Questlove, Laura Jane Grace and Others Defend Meg White’s Drumming Amid Social Media Debate

A multitude of musicians have weighed in on the skill of former drummer for The White Stripes, Meg White, after a tweet lamenting White’s drumming from political journalist Lachlan Markay went viral.

Earlier this week, Markay wrote – in a since-deleted tweet – that the “tragedy of the White Stripes is how great they would’ve been with a half decent drummer.” Markay went on to call White’s drumming “terrible” and argued “no band is better for having shitty percussion.”

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The Roots drummer Questlove took issue with Markay’s point of view, calling it “out of line af.” He continued: “Actually what is wrong [with] 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).”

Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace also weighed in, writing: “Simplicity with soul will always be more impressive to me than technical virtuosity. People like to criticize drummers like Meg or Penny from Crass but literally no one can recreate their feel.”

Unknown Mortal Orchestra‘s Ruban Nielson pointed out White’s “impeccable taste and cool” and “elastic and intuitive sense of time,” adding that she “felt what the audience wanted and played it,” something that’s “very very rare in even the best drummers.”

Singer-songwriter and model Karen Elson – who was married to Jack White from 2005 until their divorce in 2013 – added, “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.”

Markay, for what it’s worth, has since recanted his take, describing the tweet as an “ill-advised”, “over-the-top take” that was “just truly awful in every way. Petty, obnoxious and just plain wrong.”

“A lot of people have now weighed in, both on my nasty and totally unjustified tone, and on the merits, pointing out it’s simply untrue,” Markay wrote. “Guess what: they’re right! It was a terrible, mean thing to say—and also just, you know, wrong—and I deeply regret saying it.

“So to Meg White: I am sorry. Really. And to women in the music business generally, who I think are disproportionately subject to this sort of shit, I am sorry to have fed that as well. I’m really going to try to be more thoughtful in the future, both on here and off.”

Meg White’s minimalistic, feel-driven drumming has long been considered an essential part of The White Stripes’ unique appeal – with both her and former White Stripes bandmate Jack White dismissing criticism. “I appreciate other kinds of drummers who play differently, but it’s not my style or what works for this band,” Meg said during a 2002 interview. “I get [criticism] sometimes, and I go through periods where it really bothers me. But then I think about it, and I realize that this is what is really needed for this band.”

Jack White, meanwhile, said in a 2005 interview, “I never thought, ‘God, I wish Neil Part was in this band,'” and attributed criticisms of Meg’s drumming to sexism. “Meg is the best part of this band. It never would have worked with anybody else, because it would have been too complicated… It was my doorway to playing the blues.”

Since the White Stripes’ disbandment in 2011, Meg White has been inactive in the music industry, and has remained almost entirely out of the public eye. The White Stripes are currently among those nominated for induction into this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Further Reading

Rage Against the Machine, The White Stripes, Kate Bush and Missy Elliott Among Rock Hall 2023 Nominees

Coachella Share Archival Footage From The White Stripes’ 2003 Performance

Watch The White Stripes Perform ‘Death Letter’ Back In 2000 In Newly-Released Early Footage

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