The Black Keys: History of the Rock Band

Formed in Akron, Ohio in 2001, The Black Keys are a rock duo comprised of members Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney. They made a name for themselves in the indie scene with their blues and garage rock sound and gained more mainstream exposure when their music was featured in Hollywood productions. However, The Black Keys got their big break after working with producer Danger Mouse. Their success continued with Grammy wins and hit singles during the next decade. In this WatchMojo.com video, we take a look at the history of The Black Keys.
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Formation


Rock band The Black Keys formed in Akron, Ohio in 2001. Guitarist and vocalist Dan Auerbach planned to record a demo in his buddy Patrick Carney’s basement, when he found himself without a backing band. Drummer Carney ended up jamming with him, and the two soon formed the band.

Indie Debut


The pair wound up recording their 2002 blues and garage rock debut in Carney’s basement. The Big Come Up was released through the independent label Alive Records, and, considering the band’s indie status, it achieved considerable popularity.

Second Album and Movie Appearance


The do-it-yourself approach carried over to 2003’s bluesy Thickfreakness. Like their first record, it was recorded in Carney’s basement with the drummer himself taking on production duties. The Black Keys were introduced to a wider audience that year when their music appeared in the movie “School of Rock.”

Recording in a Factory


Following a few EPs, the band built on their popularity by dropping 2004’s Rubber Factory on Fat Possum Records. Carney continued with production duties on the album, which was recorded in a deserted factory. The track “10 A.M. Automatic” was found on that release, and was accompanied by a David Cross-directed music video.

EPs and Live Albums


Up next was Chulahoma: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough, which was a tribute EP that covered songs by the legendary bluesman. Following that, the live album Live in Austin, TX managed to capture the group’s raw energy from performances during their 2003 tour.

Next Studio Effort and Movie Soundtracks


The duo then came out with Magic Potion in 2006 on Nonesuch Records. This moodier album was entirely written and composed by the pair themselves. During this time, The Black Keys also contributed to several movie soundtracks.

Danger Mouse


2008’s Attack & Release marked a few firsts for the band: it was the first record to be produced in a studio and the first to feature the more refined production work of Danger Mouse. With the inclusion of more bass guitar and keyboards, this album went beyond their typical guitar and drums set-up to result in a fuller sound. It also generated singles like the bluesy “I Got Mine” and the hook-heavy “Strange Times.”

Touring and Side Projects


The Black Keys spent the next couple of months on the road. In 2009, members took time away to focus on solo and side projects. They also collaborated with hip hop artists like Ol’ Dirty Bastard and members of the Wu-Tang Clan on the rap rock project Blakroc.

“Brothers”


With help from Mark Neill and Danger Mouse, the twosome produced the majority of their 2010 return to blues-rock: Brothers. The end product was a Grammy-winning album filled with powerful vocals and dynamic drumming. Brothers hit the third position on the Billboard 200, and achieved gold status with help from the song, “Tighten Up.” The Black Keys also showed off their sense of humor with the music video for “Howlin’ for You,” which spoofed movie trailers.

Success and “El Camino”


2011 proved to be a busy year for the Black Keys: aside from playing numerous summer festivals, they appeared on “Saturday Night Live” on two separate occasions and recorded their seventh album in Nashville, Tennessee. Co-produced and co-written by the duo, El Camino was a pure rock effort that also blended soul and rockabilly influences. Not just loved by critics, the album jumped to number two on Billboard and yielded their biggest hit to that point: the rock single “Lonely Boy” was complemented with a widely-viewed music video.

Touring and the Grammys


The Black Keys took off on tour in 2012 in support of El Camino. That year, they were also up for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 54th Grammy Awards for their cover of “Dearest” from the 2011 compilation Rave On Buddy Holly.

Pop Culture and Future


The Black Keys’ blues and garage rock reached near-ubiquitous status by showing up in video games, TV programs and films. By bringing back good old fashioned rock and roll, The Black Keys have become one of the new millennium’s most talked about bands. And, on the strength of solid song-writing and a rough-and-tough sound, this is one band that will keep fans howlin’ for them.
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