The band is based in Nashville, Tennessee. According to the band's official website, "The seed was sown in an attic in the middle of a hot summer when friends Jack White and Brendan Benson got together and wrote a song that truly inspired them. This song was 'Steady, As She Goes' and the inspiration led to the creation of a full band with the addition of Lawrence and Keeler." The band came together in Detroit during 2005 and recorded when time allowed for the remainder of the year. Due to the various members' success in other bands, they were quickly dubbed a supergroup. The band, however, asserted they were not, saying that the term implies something pre-planned or temporary, whereas they are actually "a new band made up of old friends."
The band has played a number of music festivals in Europe, Asia, and North America (including Oxegen in Ireland; Reading Festival, Leeds Festival, Glastonbury Festival, and T in the Park in the United Kingdom; Heineken Open'er Festival in Poland; Vegoose in Las Vegas; Lollapalooza in Chicago; Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee; Austin City Limits Music Festival in Austin, Texas; Coachella in Indio, California; and Orlando Calling in Orlando, Florida), headlining many.
The Raconteurs were renamed as "The Saboteurs" for the Australian market when it was discovered that a Queensland band was already using the name "Raconteurs". The Queensland band refused to give up their name for the amount of money they were offered, and instead asked for a higher price from The Raconteurs' record company, who refused to pay the greater amount. A member of the Queensland band said that they had not been informed of who was trying to buy their name and asked for the larger sum of money to see what would happen.
The Raconteurs' full-length debut, Broken Boy Soldiers, was recorded at Brendan Benson's in-home studio located in Detroit. The first single was "Steady, As She Goes/Store Bought Bones" and was released as a limited-edition 7-inch, 45 rpm vinyl record in Europe on January 30, 2006, and in North America on March 7, 2006. A CD version of "Steady, As She Goes" was released on April 24, 2006, with the B-side "Bane Rendition".
The Raconteurs first performed live at the Academy in Liverpool, UK, on March 20, 2006, launching a short British tour. Their first American date was the following month, on April 20 at New York City's Irving Plaza. Nearly nonstop touring followed, bringing the band to audiences around North America and Europe. The high profile of Jack White meant that even though the band was new, they were able to sell out mid-size venues—a rarity for a band's first tour.
Broken Boy Soldiers was released on May 15, 2006, in the UK on Third Man Recordings/XL Recordings and May 16 in the U.S. on Third Man Recordings/V2 Records. It entered the UK charts at No. 2 and the U.S. charts at No. 7.
In November 2006, the Raconteurs played eight dates as the opening act for Bob Dylan on the north-eastern leg of his U.S. tour. On November 3, 2006, the Raconteurs performed the song "Store Bought Bones" and the title track, "Broken Boy Soldier" on Later with Jools Holland. According to Planet Sound (who had reporters in attendance), during "Store Bought Bones" White's guitar malfunctioned and they had to re-play the song. This eventually happened four times, with the band breaking up in laughter by the fourth take. The TV airing used edited pieces from all four performances and cut out any laughter. The band's cover of "Teenage Kicks" by The Undertones appeared on a 40-year anniversary of the BBC live compilation. They played it live on a John Peel tribute.
The band has performed a number of covers during live shows. For instance, the set list usually includes renditions of "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" (a song written by Sonny Bono and popularized by both Cher and Nancy Sinatra) and "Headin' for the Texas Border" by The Flamin' Groovies. Other songs the band has covered include Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy", Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love?", Ron Davies' "It Ain´t Easy", Love's "A House Is Not a Motel", and Charley Jordan's "Keep It Clean". The band has also covered the song "Floating" by the Irish band Jape, and "Send Me a Postcard", by Dutch band Shocking Blue. Also an old Blues song written by Big Joe Williams in 1935, popularized by Van Morrison's, "Them" in 1964, "Baby, Please Don't Go."
In December 2006, the band's debut album, Broken Boy Soldiers, was awarded the title Album of the Year by Britain's Mojo magazine. In 2007, the album was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album. The Raconteurs were nominated for two awards at the 49th Annual Grammys: one for Best Rock Album for Broken Boy Soldiers, and another for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "Steady, As She Goes". The intro and ending of Steady As She Goes is often used to play out Saturday Live, a long running radio programme on BBC Radio4.
The Raconteurs released their second album, Consolers of the Lonely on March 25, 2008. The first single, "Salute Your Solution", was released the same day.
The band also played tour dates including: Coachella on April 25, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on May 4, Bonnaroo on June 13, T in the Park in Scotland on July 12, Oxegen festival in Ireland on July 13 and The Open'er Festival in Poland on July 4. They played at "The Pyramid Stage" at the Glastonbury Festival 2008 on June 28, the Montreux Jazz festival on July 7, at Lollapalooza on August 1, and on the main stage of Reading and Leeds Festival 2008 on August 23 and 24, also at Austin City Limits Music Festival September 26–28, 2008. They played "The Eden Sessions" at the Eden Project in Cornwall on June 29. The band also toured the U.S. during summer 2008. In 2009, Consolers of the Lonely was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Album, and won the Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.
In an interview in February 2010 Brendan Benson stated that the future of The Raconteurs was ambiguous, stating "I think we're all just really focused on other things." He went on to add that "it will come around and we'll get together again and hang out and maybe make a record or maybe not." On April 17, 2010, Benson and Keeler performed Raconteurs songs as The Racontwoers at Jack White's Third Man Records venue to coincide with a repressing of Broken Boy Soldiers on copper-colored vinyl. The pair was accompanied by Mark Watrous and Andrew Higley. The band played at the MI Fest on September 17, 2011, as well as September 15 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. On November 12, 2011 the band played the inaugural Orlando Calling festival in Orlando, Fl. The Raconteurs announced an additional American show to play at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia on November 13, 2011. In April 2012, Third Man Records released two songs that were supposed to appear on Consolers of the Lonely; 'Open Your Eyes' and 'You Make a Fool Out of Me'. Jack White said '’Open Your Eyes’ sounds like a hit. Seems like it could’ve been released as a single and I can’t remember why it didn’t make the album'. The songs are to be re-recorded for Brendan Benson's next solo album. In February 2013, Jack White announced that the band is back in the studio recording new music. In March 2014, in an interview in The Guardian newspaper, Brendan Benson announced that a new album was "kind of off the table", suggesting that a new album is not currently in the works, and that the band's hiatus is more like a split.
Benson and Lawrence joined White onstage during the encore of his January 28, 2015 concert at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN. They played "Salute Your Solution" and "Steady, As She Goes". Keeler was unable to join since he was on tour with The Afghan Whigs at the time. It remains unclear if The Raconteurs have any plans for the future.Jack White – vocals, guitar, keyboards, organ, piano, stylophone, mandolin
Brendan Benson – vocals, guitar, keyboards, organ, piano
Patrick Keeler – drums, percussion
Jack Lawrence – bass guitar, banjo, backing vocals
Touring members and guest musicians
Dean Fertita (2006, 2011) – keyboards, percussion, guitar
Mark Watrous (2008) – keyboards, fiddle, percussion, violin, vocals
Alison Mosshart (2008) – lead vocals during the Memphis show September 29