Jack White is the youngest of ten siblings born to Gorman and Teresa Bandyk Gillis, his mother being of Polish origin. His father and mother worked for the Archdiocese of Detroit, as the maintenance man and the Cardinal's secretary, respectively. Jack, like his six brothers, eventually became an altar boy, which landed him a small role in the movie The Rosary Murders, filmed mainly at Holy Redeemer parish in southwest Detroit. At five he taught himself how to play the drums, and as a child was a fan of classical music. Although White grew up near Mexicantown, the lower-middle-class Mexican district of southwest Detroit, his musical preferences were not those of his classmates, who listened to electronica and hip hop. White, as a teenager, was already listening to the blues and 1960s rock that would influence him in the White Stripes, Son House and Blind Willie McTell being among his favorite blues musicians.
White on 60 Minutes in February of 2005In 2005 on 60 Minutes, White told Mike Wallace that his life could have turned out differently. "I'd got accepted to a seminary in Wisconsin, and I was gonna become a priest, but at the last second I thought, 'I’ll just go to public school,'" White said. "I had just gotten a new amplifier in my bedroom, and I didn’t think I was allowed to take it with me." It would turn out to be a life-defining decision.
At fifteen, White began a three-year upholstery apprenticeship with a family friend, Brian Muldoon. After working in various shops, he started a one-man business of his own, called Third Man Upholstery. The slogan of his business was "Your Furniture's Not Dead" and the color scheme was yellow, white and black — including a yellow van, a yellow and black uniform and a yellow clipboard. While "Third Man Upholstery" never lacked business, White claims that it was not profitable, due to his complacency about money and his business practices that were perceived as unprofessional, including making bills out in crayon and writing poetry inside the furniture.