"I'd like to dedicate this whole show to Ikey Owens, he's from Long Beach and this night is for him," White said. Of all the gestures White has made in honor of Owens since his death, this one felt the most special.
The fact was, though, that after so many years tearing up LBC, Owens was finally ready to leave. His newfound career with White prior to his death inspired him to move to Nashville, persuing gigs as a session player and producer in between jaunts on the road. It was a bold step. One that I was actually fortunate enough to see him take, in some small part, two months before his death.
I'd been with another friend of mine on a late night last August. We'd just taken some shrooms near downtown Long Beach earlier in the evening and the trip was wearing off with plenty of time to kill before calling it a night. That's when my friend, who also knew Ikey, decided to text him and see what he was up to with a reasonable confidence that he'd reply. That's the sort of guy he was--rarely one to hideout when he was in his hometown. Plenty of his friends can tell you stories, post Mars Volta fame, of Owens meeting them for drinks, hanging out at local shows, or in our case that night, visiting his house not far from the V-Room--one of his favorite spots in Long Beach.
After texting us back and inviting us over, we caught an Uber to his place, where he was pacing around, gathering things in the dim lamp light of his spacious duplex which he shared with a roommate--a lifestyle conducive to someone who spends most of his life on the move. Unbeknownst to me at the time, he'd been folding his clothes and packing his bags for Nashville, headed out on a 6 a.m. flight.
I wish I could remember the details of exactly what we talked about or what was said--in my post-shroom haze, my memory is a little shaky and I'm sorry to say as a reporter, without my recorder, I'm not always the best at recalling dialogue. But he sat my friend and I down as we burned a joint and he regailed us with his plans to take one of his final back and forth trips to Tennessee before moving there for good. It was just time. From his appearance at Coachella as the keyboardist for the Mars Volta in 2003 until now, he had accomplished so much more than most of his fans and friends could've ever dreamed.