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Thursday, October 16, 2014

RIP Isaiah "Ikey" Owens, Keyboardist for Mars Volta, Jack White, and Many More

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 1:31 PM

click image Ikey Owens, 1975 - 2014. - PHOTO BY JOHN GILHOOLEY
  • Photo by John Gilhooley
  • Ikey Owens, 1975 - 2014.

Sad news broke on Tuesday that much-loved keyboardist and producer Isaiah "Ikey" Owens had passed away of a suspected heart attack while on tour with Jack White in Mexico. He was 38 years old. While Ikey Owens isn't a name that everyone will immediately recognize, there is no doubt that you'll have come into contact with his boundary-pushing work if you're a longtime alt-music fan.

In honor of Owens' sizable contribution to music, then, we'd like to present some of his finest moments. RIP Ikey. You will be missed.

"Pendulous Skin," Mastodon

Mastodon's 2006 concept album, Blood Mountain, was about being stranded in the wilderness and the battle to survive. Owens' collaboration "Pendulous Skin" is the last track on the record and is the sound of Blood Mountain's protagonist giving up, letting go, and passing on to somewhere more peaceful. Wistful, gorgeous, and emotive. 

"Televators," The Mars Volta

The only Mars Volta record that Ikey Owens actively remembers writing "a few keyboard parts" for was the experimental prog outfit's 2003 debut, Deloused in the Comatorium, on which "Televators" first appeared. Guitarist, writer and producer, Omar Rodriquez-Lopez wrote almost everything else the band ever released...but Owens was consistently given free rein on keyboard solos.  

"Black Stacey," Saul Williams

Prolific poet, writer, and musician Saul Williams collaborated on "Black Stacey" — taken from his self-titled 2004 album — with Ikey Owens. And it would be one of only two occasions when Owens contributed piano, rather than keyboards, to a single. The other example was Sublime's "Summertime (Rock Steady Remix)," which was one of his earliest recordings. 

Free Moral Agents

The eclectic Long Beach sextet was the brainchild of Ikey Owens, who, wishing to expand on his solo work, brought Free Moral Agents together one piece at a time, based on his own instinct of what he wanted the project to be. "Chaine Infinie" was the band's last video.   

Jack White & The Buzzards

Ikey Owens was a member of Jack White's all-male band, the Buzzards. White also put together an all-female band known as the Peacocks. In a 2012 interview, Ikey told an interviewer that "You get a message at some point during the day: 'It's your show today,' and so I don't know if I'm playing or not... It's very last minute. Usually there's some sky-writing involved! I thought for sure this was going to be the weirdest thing, but it's worked out great. Everyone's all family... I miss everyone when I go home.'"

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