Isaiah 'Ikey' Owens dies at 38: keyboardist for Jack White, others

Isaiah 'Ikey' Owens dies at 38: keyboardist for Jack White, others
Long Beach keyboardist Isaiah "Ikey" Owens, shown in a recent performance, died while on tour with Jack White in Mexico. (Third Man Records)

Keyboardist Isaiah "Ikey" Owens, who worked as an L.A. session man, member of the Mars Volta, founder of the Free Moral Agents and touring member of Jack White's band, has died while on tour in Mexico.

Mexican officials said an investigation into the cause of the 38-year-old's death is ongoing.


White's label, Third Man, announced Owens' death in a statement published on its website, reprinted in full below:

"It is with great sadness that we tell the world of the passing of the incredible musician Isaiah "Ikey" Owens. He will be missed and loved forever by his family, friends, bandmates and fans.

"Ikey Owens was an astounding keyboard player in Jack White's backing band. He also played with Mars Volta, Free Moral Agents, and many other projects.

"Out of respect for Ikey, the remaining shows of the Jack White Tour in Mexico have been cancelled.

"We will miss you Ikey. You were and are an incredible artist."

Owens got his start in Long Beach, where he gained early attention playing with the Long Beach Dub All Stars. In addition, he contributed to work by acts including Sublime, Reel Big Fish, Busdriver, Mastodon, Z-Trip and others.

Immediately following the announcement of his death, Owens' name started trending on social media as fans and fellow musicians lined up to post tributes on Twitter. "Ikey beautiful ikey oh man love what a beautiful dude," wrote Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea.

Drummer for the Roots and bandleader for "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, expressed  grief, writing "Dude. I'm so hurt over this man jesus."

Owens had recently moved to Nashville, where he was working to build a life as a session player. In a June 2014 interview published in the Orange County Register, the musician said he had to sacrifice his Long Beach lifestyle for the sake of his career.

"Now that I'm getting older, it's really hard to try and professionally make records in Long Beach," Owens told the newspaper. "I don't want to live in L.A.; I'm not really interested in New York. Nashville has been really good to me and kind of developing my career more in the studio."

Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit