Jack White felt like a “kid in the ‘40s from Europe” growing up.
The former White Stripes frontman has recalled his challenging upbringing. He came from a large family, being the youngest of ten children, and was raised in a lower middle-class neighbourhood in Detroit, Michigan.
“My mom’s Polish and she was born in the Depression. I was raised by people who were senior citizens, along with nine brothers and sisters. So I was really raised like a kid in the ‘40s from Europe, plucked in the middle of blue-collar America,” he told the January edition of Esquire magazine. “We’d go to Catholic school and that was a decaying religion in Detroit at that time because there were no white people left – they’d all moved away – and Detroit was already decaying as well.”
Although Jack had a tough childhood, he says his early years had a huge impact on his desire to pursue a career in music.
“But all of that showed me the beauty of music, song-writing structure, family, folk, culture. All those were involved in constructing how I looked at the world,” he explained.
The 37-year-old musician struggled to connect to children in his neighbourhood. Jack had very different interests to most of his school mates, and also admits he was heavily influenced by his older siblings.
“I went to an all-Mexican school and graduated to an all-black high school, and I’m coming home and watching The Godfather and listening to Hank Williams and reading about the Second World War, and at school everyone’s doing none of that!” Jack laughed. “You don’t really know what’s cool any more, and I had so many older brothers and sisters and I cared what they thought so much. I was indoctrinated to assume that if I was ever going to attempt anything new in my life, it had to be approved through that committee.”