The great Meg White debate: Rock’s biggest names defend her drumming legacy

Amidst a raging debate over Meg White’s drumming abilities, some of the most respected names in rock music have stepped up to defend her honour.

Amidst the cacophonous uproar surrounding Meg White’s purported lack of musical prowess, none other than the illustrious Tom Morello has taken it upon himself to come to her defence. The esteemed Rage Against the Machine guitarist took to social media to set the record straight: “Meg White is one of the greatest drummers in the history of rock n roll. It’s not even a debate,” he proclaimed, his words fueled with the kind of indignation that only a true rock aficionado could muster.

While some may point to her drumming as lacking in technical flair, Morello dismissed such petty concerns, insisting that White’s playing always served the song. “Does she do a lot of complicated tom-tom fills? No, thank God. She has style and swag and personality and oomph and taste and awesomeness that’s off the charts,” he asserted, adding that her “vibe is untouchable” by those “boring-ass skin beaters” who cling to their “tight” syncopated para-diddles.

white stripes

It’s not just Morello who has rushed to White’s defence, however. Even her former bandmate Jack White has been quick to defend her honour, penning a poem that likened White’s detractors to “demons, cowards and vampires out for blood.” Clearly, Meg White may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but her impact on rock music is undeniable, and anyone who says otherwise clearly doesn’t know their paradiddles from their paradigms.

A slew of high-profile musicians have now spoken out in defense of the White Stripes’ iconic percussionist. From Questlove: “I try to leave ‘troll views’ alone but this right here is out of line af. 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).” To Dave Grohl, who shared via NME “She’s one of my favourite drummers! She is one of those drummers that if you hear 15 seconds of her recording, you’ll know who it is, and that to me has always been the gold standard” the sentiment is clear: Meg White’s drumming may not be flashy or technically complex, but it has an undeniable swagger and personality that sets it apart from the rest. Despite Markay’s subsequent apology and retraction of his comments, the incident has shed light on the larger issue of online toxicity and the damaging effects it can have on both musicians and fans alike.

For those that need a reminder of how all this whole thing started, last week journalist Lachlan Markay tweeted (and deleted) “The tragedy of The White Stripes is how great they would have been with a half decent drummer” followed by “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 shitty percussion.”

Needless to say, since the backlash, he has since apologised and taken his initial comment back. “By now you’ve probably seen an ill-advised (and since-deleted) tweet I sent out yesterday about the White Stripes and Meg White,” he said on Twitter. “It was an over-the-top take on TWS and White as a drummer, and was, let’s face it, just truly awful in every way. Petty, obnoxious, just plain wrong. I don’t know if Meg White herself saw that tweet. I hope not, because I imagine it wouldn’t feel great to see a stranger dumping on you like that. 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.

I’ve been thinking to myself as all this—again, completely justified—hate comes in over the last 24 hours: why did I actually write that? It’s not what I really think, and I like to think I’m not the asshole it made me out to be, or at least I try not to be. “I think the answer, in part, is that sort of vicious sniping is something that we—us online folks—tend to reward with eyes and clicks. And I think I got caught up in that implicit incentive structure with a needlessly inflammatory, downright mean, and most importantly false take.”