Ike White, a combination of lies and truths, held together by his music
June 9, 2020 9:34 PM   Subscribe

Ike White had the kind of life that sounds too outrageous to be true. Given a life sentence for murder at the age of 19, he spent his time writing songs with his fellow prisoners and was soon discovered by Jerry Goldstein, a record producer and affiliate of Jimi Hendrix. They managed to record Ike’s debut album, Changin’ Times (YouTube playlist), from a mobile studio in prison in California in 1974. By 1978, Stevie Wonder had caught wind of the socially conscious, funky record and secured a new attorney for White, who petitioned for his release that year. Set free, White was poised for stardom and had just had a child with his new wife – Goldstein’s secretary. Then he disappeared. Murder, mystery and a hit record: the unbelievable story of Ike White (Ammar Kalia for The Guardian)

An obscure funk album (Discogs) by a convicted murderer led filmmaker Dan Vernon down a rabbit hole of deception and shady dealings, as he recounts in a new TV documentary [Trailer]

Radio Times review by David Butcher
Ike White was a musical prodigy. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of him: he slipped into obscurity as suddenly as he found fame. His 1976 album Changing Times sounds terrific, somewhere between Jimi Hendrix and Gil Scott-Heron, despite being recorded (with the help of producer Jerry Goldstein) while Ike was in prison serving a life sentence for murder: he was freed in 1978 at the age of 32, with help from Stevie Wonder.

At that point, Ike’s story and this jaw-dropping documentary takes the first of several sharp left turns, delivering a series of sad surprises in a sort of collage-profile. “He could have been a big star,” says Goldstein, and he may be right.
His album wasn't completely forgotten, as seen by the Who Sampled page for Ike White.

Eye for Film review by Jennie Kermode
That Vernon finds Ike again, living under another name, married to a doting Russian blonde and signing in cocktail lounges will come as no real surprise – the man himself is the only logical source for some of the stories we have already heard. But there are stranger stories to come. Former neighbours remember an elderly woman who adopted him in his forties; they lived together for a while as mother and son. The mother of his youngest son talks about their trips to Vegas, their wild ambitions, her as a showgirl, him as a born again star. The Russian shows us the art he made when not experimenting with music – the sculptures, the psychedelic chandeliers. Everything full of colour, everything pointing to some tremendous talent that never quite found its focus. There’s a sense that he was too big for the world or at least that he was good at getting others to believe that.
posted by filthy light thief (2 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Available in the UK (region-locked) on the BBC iPlayer for 8 more days.

Bonus link: newspaper clipping, rotated and enlarged, from the Discogs entry on the original LP release, which has a quote from Stevie Wonder on the back -- "There are many 'Ike Whites' in this world—let's give these men a fare—making not the color of his skin his final fate for being behind bars."
posted by filthy light thief at 9:41 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]

Didn't watch the doc but listened to the album, it's wonderful. Thanks as always for the introduction!
posted by carter at 6:49 AM on June 11

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