Murder, mystery and a hit record: the unbelievable story of Ike White

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, 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.

In 2014, the story piqued the interest of Dan Vernon, the British film-maker behind The Changin’ Times of Ike White, a documentary that airs this week. “The producer of my film, Vivienne Perry, first heard Changin’ Times back in 2012,” he explains. “It was a very obscure record that had only partially been revived as a sample on tracks by Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg, but she was fascinated by it being made in prison and started calling the people listed on the back of it. She heard all these rumours that he was dead or hiding in Hawaii [because of] tax evasion – and then one of the players, Greg Errico, said that he had changed his name to David Maestro and was now working as a lounge act in LA.”

Read the feature in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 18/05/20]