The Black Keys (formed 2001)
The Black Keys are an American garage rock duo who have won 7 Grammys and released four number 1 singles.
The Black Keys: Childhood and formation
Guitarist and vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney met as children both living in Akron, Ohio. They became friends when they attended Firestone High School despite being in different social groups; Auerbach was a soccer team captain and Carney was an 'outcast'.
They started playing music together in 1996 because Auerbach had a guitar and Carney had four-track recorder and drum kit.
They both attended the University of Akron but soon dropped out. Auerbach wanted to make a living from performing but needed a demo so he roped in Carney who helped him out with recording space and equipment while Auerbach hunted down a backing group. When they didn't show, the pair played together instead and ended up recording a six track demo which got them signed to Alive records.
The band are named The Black Keys after a schizophrenic artist that they knew named Alfred McMoore kept leaving messages on their answering machines calling their fathers names of 'black keys' like D Flat.
The Black Keys: Musical career
The Black Keys recorded their debut album 'The Big Come Up' in Carney's basement and released it in 2002. It included 8 original tracks and 5 covers including from blues stars Muddy Waters, Junior Kimbrough and R. L. Burnside. It later landed them a deal with Fat Possum Records.
After the album was released they made their live debut at Cleveland's Beachland Ballroom and Tavern in front of just 4 people.
They released their second album 'Thickfreakness' soon after signing to Fat Possum and recorded it within 14 hours. From it, three singles were release: 'Set You Free', 'Hard Row', and a cover of 'Have Love, Will Travel'. It was also named third-best album of 2003 by Time.
One of their first festivals was at SXSW in Texas which took them a full day to drive themselves to in a 1994 Chrysler van.
An English mayonnaise company offered them £200,000 to use one of their songs in an advert but they declined out of fear that it would alienate their fanbase.
They toured throughout 2003 playing overseas and opening for the likes of Sleater-Kinney, Beck and Dashboard Confessional. However, they cancelled their European dates due to exhaustion. They later played at Reading and Leeds Festivals.
In 2004, they were struggling to sell any records and so began licensing their music letting their song 'Set You Free' be used in a Nissan commercial. That year saw them play at Coachella and Bonnaroo festivals.
They also released their third album 'Rubber Factory' named after where they had to move their recording studio to; an old tyre-manufacturing factory. It was their first charting album and they had comedian David Cross direct the video for one of its singles '10 A.M. Automatic'.
They released their first live video album 'Live' in 2005 after it was recorded at The Metro Theatre in Sydney, Australia.
They left Fat Possum in 2006 after releasing covers EP 'Chulahoma: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough' and signed to Nonesuch Records through which they released fourth album 'Magic Potion'. They then embarked on their largest tour yet in many 1,000 seat venues.
The first professional studio album they released was fifth effort 'Attack & Release' in 2008 which they had Danger Mouse produce after their original project with Ike Turner fell through. It opened at number 14 on the Billboard 200.
That year they supported band Devo at a concert for presidential candidate Barack Obama at the Akron Civic Theatre. They also toured with Liam Finn in Europe and released concert video 'Live at the Crystal Ballroom'.
The Black Keys: Brief hiatus
In 2009, Auerbach and Carney struggled to get along due to Auerbach's hatred for Carney's then wife Denise Grollmus. Auerbach released a solo album called 'Keep It Hid' but Carney felt betrayed and went on to form his own band called Drummer, releasing their first album 'Feel Good Together' in September that year.
The Black Keys: Reconciliation and breakthrough success
When the band reconciled in 2009, they played alongside the likes of The Roots and Public Enemy at the Roots Picnic on the Festival Pier in Philadelphia.
They then featured on a collaborative album called 'Blakroc' which featured various hip hop artists such as Mos Def, Ludacris and RZA.
In 2010, they released their sixth album 'Brothers' which sold 1.5 million copies worldwide and reached number 3 on the Billboard 200. The lead single, 'Tighten Up', spent 10 weeks at number one on the US Alternative chart and its video won the MTV Video Music Award for Breakthrough Video.
The album had the duo win three out of a possible five Grammys and they were subsequently in high demand for shows everywhere. They cancelled several dates in Australia, New Zealand and Europe, however, again suffering from exhaustion.
In 2011, they released their more up tempo seventh studio album 'El Camino', produced and co-written by Danger Mouse, which opened at number 2 on the Billboard 200.
The lead single, 'Lonely Boy', reached number 2 on the Australian Singles Chart and was certified nine-times platinum in Canada. The song and album went on to win three out of five Grammys yet again at the 2013 awards.
The album sparked their first headlining tour in 2012, performing in Europe and North America.