The Truth About Travis Barker's Relationship With The Late DJ AM

Travis Barker came to fame in the 1990s and early 2000s as the drummer for Blink-182, one of the biggest bands in the first wave of pop-punk bands that include contemporaries like Green Day, Jimmy Eat World, and Good Charlotte. Blink-182 — comprised of Barker, vocalist and guitarist Tom DeLonge, and bass player Mark Hoppus — were known for their high-energy tunes and performances which featured Barker's famously inked-up arms keeping the beat to hits like "All The Small Things" and "Dammit."

According to AllMusic, the band went on an indefinite hiatus in 2005, at which point Barker and his bandmates pursued other projects. Even after Blink-182 reunited years later, Barker has frequently collaborated with other artists, including Machine Gun Kelly, Lil Wayne, Pharrell Williams, Steve Aoki, and Kanye West, per Billboard. In 2008, Barker started a project called TRV$DJAM with DJ AM which became one of his better-known collaborations. Sadly, the working relationship between the two was short-lived and filled with tragedy.

Barker and DJ AM formed TRV$DJAM

Barker and DJ AM — whose real name was Adam Goldstein — joined forces to produce some music under the name TRV$DJAM. DJ AM was a popular disc jockey who performed in major nightclubs around the world, and was also known for his relationships with the likes of Nicole Richie and Mandy Moore which wound up in gossip rags. Still, according to The Hollywood Reporter, his personal life was nowhere near enough to overshadow his abilities behind a turntable.

According to Discogs, the duo released their debut album "Fix Your Face" in 2008 and went on to play live shows in support of it. One of their live appearances took place in Columbia, South Carolina, and consisted of a free concert that featured guests including Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell and Gavin Degraw. The estimated 10,000 people in attendance probably remember the show well, but unfortunately, for most, it's remembered for what happened after Barker and DJ AM boarded a plane out of South Carolina.

Barker and DJ AM were both injured in a plane crash

As the Learjet 60 carrying both musicians sped down the runway, the aircraft's tires suffered a catastrophic failure at around 150 miles per hour, according to Billboard. The tire failure caused damage to other parts of the plane and made it difficult to get the out-of-control jet to come to a stop, and wound up careening across a highway before hitting an embankment and igniting. According to The Hollywood Reporter, while Barker and DJ AM survived the crash, they both suffered severe injuries, including burns. Four others on the plane, including the pilot and co-pilot, as well as Barker's assistant and a security guard, were all killed.

Barker told Billboard in a 2015 interview that it took 27 surgeries to help mend the burns he received in the crash, which covered approximately 65% of his body. According to People, the incident didn't just leave both musicians with physical injuries, but mental scars as well. "There's no reason why I lived and they didn't," DJ AM said in 2009. "It's something that I struggle with every day, you know, kind of wondering."

It was later revealed that the Learjet's tires were underinflated prior to taking off. Investigators also seemed to think that the crash may have shed a light on what may have been a common issue for planes of that type.

Barker hasn't forgotten his pal DJ AM

Unfortunately, that was not the end of the tragedy. In 2009, DJ AM was found dead in his New York City apartment, succumbing to what was later confirmed to be a drug overdose (via CNN). He had battled substance abuse in the past but was reportedly 11 years sober before the overdose, which the New York medical examiner said was "accidental."

Barker went through a lot between 2008 and 2009, and it certainly left its mark. According to CNN, Barker took his first flight since his 2008 plane crash when he flew from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to Los Angeles alongside his now-wife, Kourtney Kardashian, in 2021. Not long after, Barker and Kardashian took another flight, this time to Italy (via Hip Hop Wired).

In his 2015 interview with Billboard, Barker discussed his friendship with the late DJ AM and how that death affected him. Barker mentioned that the plane crash he experienced alongside DJ AM changed his perspective on life and death, and how everything can change in an instant. Barker mentioned feeling fortunate to have walked away from the accident but also noted the toll his good friend's death took on him. "He was my best friend," Barker said. "It was beyond friendship. It was like there was only one other person in the world."