Ikey Owens

Catching Up On The Week (Oct. 17 Edition)

Some #longreads as you try to figure out a Halloween costume…

It’s the 30th anniversary of The Replacements’ classic album Let It Be, and Consequence of Sound has an all-star roundtable of musicians and writers to discuss the legendary record.  While I personally disagree with the title of the piece (I prefer Tim, though it’s a close battle), I nevertheless agree with the general sentiment that this is an album that merits reflection.

We here at Rust Is Just Right are big fans of Pearl Jam, and it’s not only because of their music.  Over the years, we’ve read several stories that show just how great these guys are as people, and this one of a promise fulfilled to a fan 22 years later is a great example of how much the band appreciates their fans.  In addition, check out this tribute that the band did in remembrance of Ikey Owens.

In this piece for the AV Club, Sean O’Neal examines what makes the memorable riff from David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” so brilliant, and would be worth reading for the additional background information from Bowie linked to in the piece.  Elsewhere on the site, Noel Murray writer contributes to the “Primer” feature with a guide to The Beach Boys, an endeavor we fully support.

Mark Lanegan shows off a bit of his sense of humor in this fun interview with Diffuser, as he releases a new solo album once again.

Pitchfork talks to Dhani Harrison about the elusive qualities of his father’s guitar style, as well as other musicians who provide insight into the subtleties that made George’s guitar-playing so timeless.

And finally, if you’re desperate for a hate-read this weekend, there’s this New York Times piece where the online equivalent of the asshole at the record store who sneers at whatever you purchased bemoans what streaming has done in diminishing the effort to be an elitist douchebag.  However, I did enjoy the auto-generated Spotify playlist that was juxtaposed next to his rant.

In Remembrance of Isaiah “Ikey” Owens

Unfortunately, the music world suffered a great loss with the unexpected death of keyboardist Isaiah “Ikey” Owens earlier this week.  Like many fans, I first heard of Ikey when the formation of The Mars Volta was announced.  Back then, once we consoled ourselves after the disintegration of At the Drive-In, we eagerly looked forward to the next project of Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez.  Once it was revealed that they were adding a keyboard player in to that mix, as well as bringing in ringers like Flea and John Frusciante, we were intrigued as to what the final product would be.

Ikey often brought a subtle presence to the songs, with his contributions often difficult to distinguish at first due to the bombastic nature of many of the guitar arrangements.  But careful listens that many of the melodies and textures were Ikey’s, and his keyboard playing was an integral part of the overall Mars Volta sound.  And even from behind his rows of keyboards and organs, Ikey was an engaging stage presence who would always grab your attention; for instance, when I think of the “Inertiatic ESP” video, it’s his headbobs and glissandos that I remember first.

After working with The Mars Volta for years, he eventually joined up with Jack White in his “Buzzards” all-star backing band, and anyone who has had the fortune of seeing Jack’s solo shows these past few years knows just how special that lineup is.  It was while on tour in Mexico with Jack White that Ikey’s unfortunate death occurred, and out of respect for him that the rest of White’s tour dates in the country have been cancelled.

Of course, considering the great talent of Ikey, other groups were eager to hire him as a guest musician.  A quick glance at his guest appearances on Wikipedia indicate that artists from a wide variety of genres respected his skills, including El-P, Saul Williams, and Mastodon.  Truly, the world lost a great musician.