Keyboardist Isaiah “Ikey” Owens, who most recently played with Jack White and previously with the Long Beach Dub Allstars and the Mars Volta, has died. The musician was touring with White in Mexico at the time of his death; White has canceled the rest of his tour dates in the country out of respect to the musician. A coroner determined that the cause of death was a heart attack. He was 38.
“We will all miss you, Ikey,” White’s Facebook wrote. “You were and are an incredible artist.”
Owens had begun playing with White in 2012, appearing on the former White Stripes frontman’s solo debut, Blunderbuss, and his most recent record, Lazaretto. Rolling Stone praised Owens’ playing during White’s set at Lollapalooza 2012, singling out “Hypocritical Kiss” for the way Owens worked with White on the song.
“It’s been great, it’s been perfect,” Owens told Orange County Register about working with White. “[It’s] a great fit, he’s really easy to play with.”
Owens first came to prominence playing with the Long Beach Dub Allstars, a group that also featured former Sublime members who came together after the 1996 death of their singer, Bradley Nowell. He went on to collaborate with future Mars Volta members Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodríguez-López on a dub group called De Facto. He followed all of the members of that group into the Mars Volta when they formed in the early 2000s until he parted ways with the group in the early 2010s.
During his career, he also played with psychedelic group Free Moral Agents and hip-hop duo Look Daggers (with 2Mex), and appeared on records by Mastodon, El-P, Z-Trip, Sublime, Reel Big Fish and others.
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In June, Owens told OC Register that he had recorded a self-titled solo record. “I enjoy what I do, it’s really good,” he told the paper at the time. “I’m really happy with the people I’ve gotten to work with.”