RIP Ikey Owens

The late musician, who played with the Mars Volta, Crystal Antlers and most recently Jack White, remembered by his old friend M for Mikey.

Ikey Owens
Ikey Owens on Mikey B’s “Bikey B”
On Oct. 14, Ikey Owens was found dead in a Mexico hotel room. He had been on tour, playing keys for Jack White. Media from all over the world were quick to point out that “drugs” were in the room, meaning he must have died from an overdose — that wasn’t the case. There was a small amount of marijuana found and it was later released that he had died of a heart attack, at 38 years old. Ikey lost his fair share of friends to overdoses and I knew this wasn’t the story in this case.

Aside from his contributions to both Jack White solo records, the Grammy award winning musician was also involved with Sublime, Long Beach Dub All Stars, Kelis, Reel Big Fish, Saul Williams, Crystal Antlers and most notably the Mars Volta. Many people knew the guy, but I knew him as a dude that slept on my floor. Or the guy that took a day off to console me the day my dog died.

Owens at le Gros Luxe
Owens at le Gros Luxe
I’ve lived in a few cities in California but when I took a job for a record label in Orange County, I had the choice of settling in L.A or OC. I despised both, so I rolled the dice on downtown Long Beach, home of Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Sublime and Ikey Owens. Long Beach was edgy and right on the border of Compton. I’ve been mugged at gunpoint and once survived a drive-by shooting. Regardless, I had a dark and mysterious connection with this place and its people. Long Beach party kids had a reputation for being big doped up on heroin. I steered clear of the H but ended up losing a dozen friends to the drug.

In a city masked with darkness, Ikey was a light and gave us comfort. He was a giant fixture in the LB scene. Everyone knew him or wished they knew him. He was the gateway and floodgate to every musician in town. We all looked up to the guy. Ikey was a not only an award-winning musician, he was a teacher, an ambassador, a leader, but I’ll remember him for passing out on my couch or hotboxing our way to L.A. & back to catch some shows or shop at Amoeba.

He was happy to have a friend in Long Beach that had a connection to Canada. He admired Montreal and would often talk about it.  He also had mad love for Brian of Holy Fuck. Ikey paid me a visit here in Montreal four times. He enjoyed our city’s nightlife and the late night poutines at le Fameux. He always said “people know how to live & love in Montreal.”

I’m gonna miss the guy. I’m so grateful to have been part of his big life.

Ikey Lives. ■