Friday, April 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Talented yet troubled DJ AM's last, sad song

Adam Goldstein, known as DJ AM, was found dead Friday. The Philadelphia native struggled with trauma after a plane crash.
Adam Goldstein, known as DJ AM, was found dead Friday. The Philadelphia native struggled with trauma after a plane crash. DAN STEINBERG / Associated Press
Adam Goldstein, known as DJ AM, was found dead Friday. The Philadelphia native struggled with trauma after a plane crash. Gallery: DJ AM, 1973-2009
Video: Celebrity Disc Jockey, DJ AM, Found Dead

Whether buying into an Atlantic City nightclub or throwing the first pitch at a Phillies-Mets game or spinning and mixing records for celebrity friends and fans, all Adam Goldstein - DJ AM - was trying to do after surviving a horrendous 2008 airplane crash was live his life and stay clean.

But Goldstein, a 36-year-old Philadelphia native who grew up in Rittenhouse Square, was found dead Friday evening in his Manhattan apartment, where, police said, they found a crack pipe and prescription pills. He had been dealing with burn injuries from the airplane crash that killed four people and the post-traumatic stress disorder he had developed.

Rock drummer Travis Barker, a friend of Goldstein's who also survived the crash with burn injuries, has reunited with his band, Blink-182, which is selling out venues, including Camden's Susquehanna Bank Center on Thursday. Barker showed it could be done.

Mostly, though, DJ AM had worked hard to stay off the drugs that he had struggled with nearly a decade before.

But based on the circumstances of Goldstein's death less than a year after the airplane crash, he apparently couldn't overcome his demons.

He couldn't escape the suicidal tendencies he discussed in publications such as Glamour and the New York Times.

He died only days after throwing a baseball at the start of a Phillies-Mets game in Queens and spinning at the new Atlantic City club, Dusk, where he had become a strategic partner.

You can't say DJ AM wasn't trying.

He was excited about hosting a coming MTV program about substance abuse intervention, Gone Too Far. He also was staging interventions and arranging treatment for drug addicts seeking help.

But show business was DJ AM's world - where he was the spinner for private parties thrown by Jennifer Lopez, Leonardo DiCaprio, and the Ashton Kutcher-Demi Moore axis. And there was something touching about someone of his celebrity hosting a TV reality show that might actually help someone.

It appears that Goldstein just couldn't capture the real joy he'd brought to club habitués, dance-floor doyennes, and fellow musical artists since leaving Rittenhouse Square and schools such as Friends Central for Los Angeles at age 14.

He just couldn't help himself.

Most knew DJ AM from his disc-jockey-to-the-stars moniker or from the newsstand's gossip pages, with his serial romancing of Nicole Richie (to whom he had been engaged) and Mandy Moore.

But there was more to DJ AM than being chased down by paparazzi.

If fans of Crazy Town's unsteadying rap-rock-electronic hit, "Butterfly," check the credits, they'll find DJ AM was manning the turntables and doing the scratching. Look and listen further and you find that his place in the metal-hip-hop mash-up stakes extends to artists like Papa Roach, Madonna, and Will Smith.

The boy could spin. That's how he won his reputation, one he lent to the flashy Pure nightclub in Las Vegas before he bought part of Dusk this year.

If he wasn't a commercially and aesthetically viable name worthy of admiration and paying customers, would fellow investors have dropped millions looking to cash in? Don't bet on it.

If he wasn't great, would Jay-Z - arguably the greatest rapper ever - have let DJ AM spin beside him during October's reopening of the Hollywood Palladium, barely a month after DJ AM's plane crash? H-to-the-Iz-NO.

DJ AM had chops as a scratcher and a spinner, plain and simple.

Everything else - the gossip, the drugs - was beneath him.

A.D. Amorosi For The Inquirer
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