Isaiah “Ikey” Owens, beloved Long Beach musician, producer and the keyboardist of Jack White's touring band, has died. According to Third Man Records' website, “Out of respect for Ikey, the remaining shows of the Jack White Tour in Mexico have been cancelled.”
See also: [Photos] Remembering Ikey Owens
Mexico's Periodico Digital broke the news of Owens' death. According to the publication, he was found dead in his Puebla, Mexico hotel room on Tuesday morning. Authorities reportedly found drugs and alcohol in his room. According to a representative, Owens died of a heart attack.
UPDATE: On Wednesday White's camp released a statement with information about Owen's death:
The coroner has determined that Ikey Owens died from a heart attack the morning of October 14 at approximately 4 am. The only drugs found in his room were a small amount of marijuana.”
A native of Long Beach, Owens had been touring with White since 2012. Prior to that, he was a member of The Mars Volta, their precursor De-Facto and Free Moral Agents, among many other bands. In the '90s, Owens played a major role in Long Beach Dub All-stars, as well as OC outfits Pocket Lent and Teen Heroes. Over the years, he's produced records for dozens of local bands including Crystal Antlers, Dusty Rhodes and the Riverband and Wild Pack of Canaries.
Owens had recently moved to Nashville, where he was working to build a life as a session player. In a June 2014 he spoke with the Register about sacrificing his Long Beach lifestyle for the sake of his career.
We checked in with Owens just last spring to talk about Free Moral's latest release, Chaine Infinie. The album was recorded before Owens started touring with White and favored an old-school style of production which he said harkened back to the techniques of his favorite Jamaican artists. No matter what projects he was working on, Owens always made it clear that he put his heart into everything he did. In our interview last year, he commented about going on tour with his friends in Free Moral and doing it for the love:
Before 2010, I hadn't been in a van since De Facto or like maybe early Mars Volta days. But it doesn't really matter to me so much. I mean, I love tour buses and I really like nice hotels and all the shit that comes with it, but I just really wanted to go play with Free Moral and we [toured] and it was really fun, especially Europe was the shit. It was kinda weird to get back in the van. For the first part of it we slept on people floors and occasionally booked hotels. It wasn't really that big of a deal, this is my band. What am I gonna do, not go on a tour because I can't rock a tour bus?
While it's hard for us to even comprehend this at this moment, Heard Mentality will keep you updated on this unbelievable tragedy. Below is a video of Owens performing with White at Corona Capital over the weekend.