But they go back even further than Conan thought, as Mark Binelli reports in his cover story on O'Brien in Rolling Stone .
"In Detroit, there's a place where you can get a bite to eat, and then go bowling, and there's a rock venue there too," Conan recalled. "When I was there — I wanna say this is like 1999 — I got a bite to eat with my crew, and then we decided to go bowling, and these kids started to come over and hang out with us. I don't even remember — I just remember hanging out with all these really young, scruffy Detroit kids for a while, all of us talking and drinking beer.
"Flash forward to: the White Stripes are the big deal and they're on Saturday Night Live, and I really love them, so I went to watch them at rehearsal," he continued. "After they're done rehearsing, Jack and Meg walk down — and they're coming right at me. And they said, 'Hey, it's good to see you again.'
"And I said, 'Again?' They said, 'Yeah, in Detroit you hung out with us for like three hours and had beers in a bowling alley and we just shot the shit and you were real nice.' "
Conan erupted into laughter. "And I'm like, 'I didn't know that was you guys!' "
- Jack White