DJ AM (Adam Michael Goldstein) 1973-2009
Monday, August 31st, 2009
DJ AM (Adam Michael Goldstein 1973-2009)
by Eric Hendrikx, photography by Eric Hendrikx
“New York, New York. Big city of dreams, but everything in New York ain’t always what it seems.” – DJ AM reciting lyrics by Grandmaster Flash, August 25, 2009
These were among the last words from DJ AM (Adam Michael Goldstein) before his body was found on Friday August 28, 2009 in his SoHo apartment in New York City. Two days earlier, I was in NYC in front of his ornate edifice apartment building, keen that he was not keeping to his obligated schedules, but still heavy with anticipation of shooting a few photos with him in his eclectic, cobblestone paved neighborhood.
Adam was known for dating starlets Nicole Richie and Mandy Moore, for having an extravagant collection of sneakers that absorbed most of his Los Angeles home, and for his music. He scratched rhythms on albums for Will Smith and Madonna, played concerts with Jay-Z, and recently raised the live performance bar with his high-energy collaborative musical duo with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker; a friend with whom he formed an unimaginable bond after surviving a harrowing plane crash in September 2008, that claimed the lives of four. The two barely survived, both men on fire as they fled the crash, while flames engulfed the jet and the remaining four whose lives were claimed in the accident.
Co-owner of the posh Las Vegas club LAX, Adam’s career was on the rise, having recently signed the richest deejay contract in the history of Las Vegas to perform weekly at the Palms Hotel nightclub Rain. His deejay performances brought in more than $25,000 per show and his headlining jams with Travis Barker sold for much higher. He recently finished filming an intervention-style drug addiction series for MTV, set to premiere Fall 2009. Adam also recently participated in the filming of Iron Man 2, scheduled to release Summer 2010.
I recently worked with Adam in Las Vegas and San Diego, photographing him for several media pieces including the cover of AC Luxury Magazine, in celebration of the opening of his new Atlantic City nightclub Dusk. “All I can tell you is I trust my gut and it led me here. I have faith that I am right where I’m supposed to be as long as I follow my heart’s desire,” said Adam. “That instinct has led me here and I trust it no matter what. We shall see what Dusk has in store for this great city.”
My first introduction with Adam was in Las Vegas at the Palms Hotel where I met the ear-to-
ear smiling artist coming out of his contract signing with the Palms Hotel owners, a contract that made him the highest paid deejay in Las Vegas, ever. We set about the hotel and casino to several savvy spots I previously eyed to shoot photos for the launch of his upcoming tenure at Club Rain. After viewing the photos, Adam said that he loved them and was disappointed that his hair was a bit “poofy”. The next day he went for a haircut before we met again in San Diego at the Hard Rock Hotel.
I arrived early at the San Diego Hard Rock Hotel to set up our photo shoot in Adam’s Rock Star Suite before he arrived. I completely remodeled the room for my shoot, rolling up carpets to expose a smooth-surface hardwood floor and taking a red leather case-study chair from another room that I deemed fit for the set. Sweating profusely under high-intensity lights, I readied the suite to my desire. We were limited on time, as Adam only had a short while before his gig at the hotels’ Club 207 launch party. As luck would have it, the last light I turned on blew the circuit breaker, killing all the power in Adam’s suite and several other rooms on the floor. Knock Knock Knock. I opened the door and there stood Adam, “What are you doing in the dark? And why are you all sweaty?” he asked. After promising him I wasn’t doing anything strange in his room and that I would fix the situation during his gig, I led Adam to an alternate location for photos, an amazing wall-sized graphic of one of his favorite artists, Run DMC. Elated with the find, Adam paid homage, throwing down classic poses in front of the wall as I fired away with my camera.
After his deejay set, we returned to the newly illuminated room, as I had spoken to the hotel management and had the electricity turned back on. Adam was in great spirits and we traded stories about our musical influences while I prepared to photograph what would become the last photos I would ever take of him. I was truly amazed at his bibliography of deejays, hip-hop and rock artists that stemmed from his sheer admiration for the art that paved the melodious streets he walked. We took several photos in the room as I searched for a signature image that would epitomize his character and fervor for authenticity. At one point during out shoot, I asked Adam to exude a look of confidence and sincerity, while holding his hands lowered in prayer. The image reveals his sincere gratitude for the life he led. We used this image (featured above) for the cover of AC Luxury Magazine prior to his death.
Once finished, I walked Adam to the door and thanked him for the opportunity and honor to work with one of the greatest deejays of our time. Adam reached out, shook my hand, and said, “No, no, the honor is completely mine.” I will always disagree those last few words.
Good bye Adam. Thank you for sharing your amazing talents and generosity with the world. I hope you’ve found the peace you deserve brother. The honor was completely mine.