Isaiah Randolph "Ikey" Owens (December 1, 1974 - October 14, 2014) was an American Grammy Award winning keyboardist known for his work with The Mars Volta, Jack White and an array of bands from the Long Beach music scene.
He notably performed as a member of Long Beach Dub Allstars, but in 1998 it was an encounter with Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodríguez-López of At the Drive-In at a concert in Irvine which proved fateful. In 1999 Owens lost his job at a financial management firm in Huntington Beach that "helped handle billion-dollar accounts for Disney and the Catholic Church", but he eventually received an invitation to join the dub reggae band De Facto and found himself touring Europe with Omar, Cedric, and Jeremy Ward. Not long after that he was once again invited to join their new project, The Mars Volta. Since then Owens was notable for being the longest tenured member of the Mars Volta outside Bixler-Zavala and Rodriguez-Lopez, having continually recorded and performed with the band since their 2001 inception, although this came to an end in 2011 when he was not asked by Rodriguez-Lopez to accompany The Mars Volta on their summer tour. The reasons for this decision are currently unknown, although on July 2 Mars Volta bassist Juan Alderete claimed that Owens was currently "producing bands these days." Juan later noted, "He had some conflicts in his scheduling, and then it all just naturally evolved into what it is today. Ikey is awesome. I miss dinners with him."
Owens was also very active outside the Mars Volta. Beginning in 2002, Owens wrote and recorded solo material under the moniker Free Moral Agents, releasing a vinyl-only EP on Pete Records, as well as a GSL split 12" with Subtitle. They released their full-length "Everybody's Favorite Weapon" in 2004. He played with Pocket Lent, Teen Heroes and did session and work and live shows with El-P, Dave Sitek from TV On The Radio, Shuggie Otis, The Aquabats, Blowfly, Barrington Levy, Mastodon, Gravy Train!!!, Born Jamericans, Wailing Souls, Radioinactive, Heavens, Prefuse 73, Bob Forrest, and poet/spoken word artist Saul Williams. Owens worked with 2Mex as hip hop duo the Look Daggers. In 2007, Ikey produced First You Live by Orange County progressive-folk band Dusty Rhodes & the River Band. Owens was also seen playing with the Long Beach experimental band Crystal Antlers. Free Moral Agents released their second full-length album Control This in the fall of 2010 (9/28), the first album with the band's expanded line-up.
Owens later became part of Jack White's all-male backup band The Buzzards, playing keyboards, organ and piano. He took part in the world tour in support of White's album Blunderbuss, and later also performed on White's second album, Lazaretto, and was in the middle of the supporting tour of the album at the time of his death.
On October 14, 2014, Owens was found dead due to a heart attack in his hotel room in Puebla, Mexico, aged 39. Two remaining concerts in Mexico in support of Jack White's album, Lazaretto, were cancelled. The band had played in Mexico City three days earlier, in Puebla one night before the incident, and were scheduled to perform in Guadalajara the day of his death.
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