Grayling DJ bringing documentary to town to honor renowned mentor
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
A Grayling-based DJ is bringing a movie to the community, which honors a mentor he was able to train with through a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
As I Am – The Life and Times of DJ AM will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 28, at the Rialto Theater.
The documentary covers the life of DJ AM, whose real name is Adam Goldstein, as he battled substance abuse as a young man, then rose to be one of most well-known DJs in the world.
A 1993 Grayling High School graduate, Shawn Schnoor grew up listening to classic rock and hip hop music.
“I love music, and most genres I like,” he said.
Schnoor first heard and witnessed DJ AM perform in 2007, while at a night club in Las Vegas during a vacation.
“It was music that I had never heard before, and the way he was playing stuff, it just piqued my interest,” Schnoor said.
Schnoor started following DJ AM and learning about his style, which he describes as open-format, combining rock and rap songs with different beats and scratching records using turntables.
Born in Philadelphia and raised in Los Angeles, DJ AM started his craft at an early age and moved it into the new era as large night clubs and techno music became popular. He was often hired for corporate events and private birthday parties for celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Jay Leno, Christina Aguilera, and Madonna.
As luck would have it, Schnoor landed an opportunity to have a private lesson with DJ AM at his studio on Los Angeles.
Schnoor won an on-line bid through E-Bay to support MusiCares, a charity established by the Grammy Foundation with the goal of getting musicians struggling with addiction into rehab centers.
Schnoor said he was extremely nervous during the lesson with DJ AM, which included watching him mix some of his most popular work featuring rock classics from Queen, Journey, and the British alternative rock band Oasis.
“He meant a lot to me,” Schnoor said. “He was very humble, and extremely nice and personable, and he kind of acted like no one else was in the room but him and I. He taught me a ton.”
DJ AM was in the midst of physical and emotional turmoil prior to booking the lesson with Schnoor.
In May 2008, DJ AM and Travis Barker, the drummer for the alternative rock band Blink 182, survived, but were badly burned, in a plane crash that occurred in Columbia, South Carolina. He was reluctant to take medications to deal with the pain.
“They started feeding him meds,” Schnoor said.
In addition, DJ was the main figure on a show produced by MTV called, Gone Too Far, where he would take part in drug interventions in hopes of getting young people into rehab and on the right paths in their lives. He was anxious to be around drugs and drug paraphernalia.
DJ AM also appeared as himself in the movie Iron Man 2, and the use of pyrotechnics and fire caused him to experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the plane crash.
Between the show and a busy touring schedule to help others instead of taking care of himself, DJ AM also started to take anxiety meds to get back on airplanes.
“He was always flying, so getting on plane for him was difficult,” Schnoor said.
Schnoor was scheduled to meet up with DJ AM in Sept. 2009, following his lesson earlier that year. Tragically, DJ AM died from a drug overdose in a New York City apartment in Aug. 2009 after 11 years of sobriety. He was 36.
“His entire life he struggled with a lot of stuff,” said Schnoor. “Unfortunately, his demons caught up with him.”
Schnoor is bringing the documentary to Grayling to honor his mentor and to highlight the struggles that others deal with such as PTSD.
“Anything I can do to keep his memory alive, I want to do that,” he said.
The documentary has been shown in New York City and Los Angeles, where DJ AM was well known among the night club scenes and involvement with other famed rappers and musicians.
“This is probably the smallest venue that it’s ever been played at, which is kind of cool,” Schnoor said.
Schnoor has served as a DJ at clubs in Las Vegas and Orlando as was well as booking gigs at private events.
“It’s really opened up a lot of opportunities for me. I’ve met a lot people,” he said. “I owe him a lot.”
Following the documentary, an after party will be held at Paddle Hard Brewing. Schnoor will kick off the party, followed by DJ Fade, from Saginaw, and DJ Rob Sample, from Toledo.
“They’re all going to do like a set,” Schnoor said.
DJ Gunner Metzer, a 2015 Grayling High School graduate, was a late addition to the bill.
“I’m excited about having him on because he’s newer,” Schnoor said.
Presale tickets are $12 at rialtograyling.com, and will be $15 at the door.
Schnoor hopes to continue to hone his skills as a DJ and to broaden his horizons.
“I would love to get more traveling gigs,” he said.