August 1st, 2015 edit:
Last night I went to see the film As I Am: The Life and Times of DJ AM, created by Kevin Kerslake. This was an emotional journey for me as AM or Adam Goldstein, had been a mentor for Solomon. He was at the top of the DJ world six years ago this month, when he died, but the Berkeley theater was half-empty, and when the woman who introduced the film asked the audience who knew about this man, only about 15 of us raised our hands.
The film points out what a genuine, heartfelt friend, genius musician, and man-with-a-mission to help others give up addictions. Sadly for me, the movie stresses AM’s relationship to drugs much more than his wizardry at the turntables. I wanted to see and hear parts of a set, instead of seeing the girls wiggling to his music. The filmmaker was clearly an observer, not a fan.
Here is my blog on DJ AM from 2009, after I saw him play with Travis Barker, the drummer, at the Mezzanine just before the plane crash when he was burned and on pain killers and anti-anxiety drugs that let to his death August 28, 2009.
Original 2009 post:
He’s gone now, connecting tsunamis of sound in heavenly gigs. DJ AM, (or Adam Goldstein) died last week in New York City. His was considered the “top” of his genre of Mash Up DJ music. I like the best of anything musical and he was it, so here is the tribute.
It was April, 2006 and my son Solomon was playing San Francisco’s Mezzanine Club south of Market Street – a very high profile DJ event. He and Guitarist-Songwriter Chris Clouse were opening for DJ AM and Travis Barker, drummer for the group Blink 182. Each duo was a good match: a live musician and a DJ.
Solomon had been educating me in his niche music for sometime. Years before, he took me to see the film Scratch about the birth of the rhythmic and inventive art of manipulating vinyl in new ways. Now Solomon, like DJ AM, was on the cutting edge of digital, and he had offered me mixes of AM, so I could see what he could do. I listened on my i-phone and liked what I heard.
My friend Cynthia and I passed a line that snaked around the block for the sold out event. At the door we were given passes and entered to find Solomon already at work on the stage, alone. He was warming up the crowd. Chris would join him as soon as the room filled. AM and Travis were due at around 11. An hour later I stood on a balcony wondering if it could hold under the weight of the gathering crowd.
Somehow Ean found us and took us backstage for the last 20 minutes of and Chris and Solomon’s set. Then AM and Travis took the stage. The crowd was screaming and the volume was turned up way above ear safety. My heart began to experience an a-rhythmical take-over by bass tones. It occurred to me that I was in a territory where anyone up to twenty years younger would fear to tread. I had stepped over the line of audial sanity and entered something not unlike the film Close Encounters … standing beneath the gigantic Mothership as it lands… with DJ AM at the controls.
As a writer my job is to translate his music into words. But that is impossible.I offer my own sample 45 second flash of AM and Barker at Mezzanine when I can get this page to up-load it. He is all over You Tube. Here are some clips:
If you want to feel like you are with the band with reasonable volume, try this cut with Travis on drums– recommended by Solomon – (T-Mobile Sidekick Launch Party, Paramount Studios, May 2009): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07-n1V-YSLo&feature=fvw
Stunningly unusual recent stuff – (BFD Festival, June 2009)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyykVQcN57c you mostly can’t indentify the tunes. He’s moved into musical Abstract Expressionism of beats and short lines, not even dance music – though you can’t stay still. It’s like he’s distilled early mixes into this elixir which is internal and physical and new.
Mystery Mix: http://bestdjsoftware.com/wordpress/?p=124 Scroll down to DJ AM “Mystery Mix” part 1 and 2. Good download for the car.
DJ Qbert – tribute: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVERHGpOd0M
I like a couple minutes of a piece recorded outside the loud performance world and nailing the likes of an orchestration of the cool 80’s? song Bette Davis Eyes set to what?? And Jump (for my love)!!
For me his signature opener is Dance to the Music, with “inda da, do do do, inda da do do” –and fast scratches over it. I feel really sad about this loss. DJ AM you won’t be needing those special ear-protectors every DJ mom wants her son to wear… Heavenly tunes to you!