Tragic Details About Travis Barker

The following article contains references to mental health issues, suicidal ideation, drug addiction, and allegations of domestic abuse. 

For any Gen Z or younger millennial readers who may not know, Travis Barker rose to fame as the drummer of the popular rock-pop-punk band Blink-182. The musical outfit enjoyed huge commercial success in the early 2000s, and its three members became MTV darlings. The video for their chart-topping song "What's My Age Again?" is a fairly accurate representation of the group's aesthetic: harmless, sophomoric fun.

After Blink-182 broke up in 2005, Barker starred in a short-lived reality show about his personal life called "Meet the Barkers." And while the series cemented the drummer's partying rock star image, it also showed the public that he was a doting family man as well. To the outside world, Barker had it all — fame, money, and a gorgeous family. But few knew what past pain lay behind his icy blue eyes, or the hardships and loss that the musician would face in his future. Here are the tragic details about Travis Barker.

Travis Barker lost his mother at a young age

Gloria Barker was also known as "Cookie," and the sweet nickname seems fitting based on Travis Barker's descriptions of his late mother in "Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums, Drums, Drums," his 2015 memoir. "My mom was very loving, and she was there for me all the time," Travis wrote. While he admitted that his mom was a pushover in the discipline department, she never let her son slack on his schoolwork and kept him "sharp" intellectually.

In the Barker household, young Travis' passion for drumming was also a top priority, and, as the future Blink-182 member recounted in his book, Gloria wholeheartedly believed that Barker would someday become a "rock star." Tragically, Gloria died the day before her son's freshman year of high school. In an interview with Vice, he shared, "From the moment after my mom passed away, I really followed the last words she told me. 'Play the drums and don't care about anything else in life but doing the things you love.' I almost felt like she was orchestrating things upstairs."

She may be gone, but Gloria Barker is never far from her son's thoughts. One tattoo on the back of Barker's neck reads "Mom" and the musician proudly added his mother's portrait to his body art in 2013. The drummer has also paid tribute to Gloria several times via social media. In a heartbreaking Instagram post that went up in 2014, Barker wrote, "Happy Mother's Day to the most amazing woman/Mom ever ... she passed away ... have thought about her and missed her everyday since."

Growing up was no day at the beach for Travis Barker

In "Can I Say," Travis Barker revealed that while he never felt deprived as a child, his "lower-middle class" upbringing in Fontana, California did come with some challenges. Barker's father built their home, and the family moved in before its completion. Barker noted, "It was like camping out: no ... bathrooms or running water. We slept on the floor in sleeping bags." The former Blink-182 drummer also reflected on his neighborhood, writing "It was a tough city: there were shootings and stabbings."

Barker had several close calls with violence himself in his youth. Speaking with Vice, the rock star recalled the day when he and his friends were targeted by a drive-by shooter. Another time, Barker was robbed while delivering pizzas (via Fontana Herald News). He told Vice, "Those things were just a confirmation that I wanted to play music and get the f**k out of [Fontana]."

One particular incident was so frightening, Barker told Pop Buzz he experienced an "awakening" after he emerged unscathed. According to Fontana Herald News, Barker was getting into his father's truck when "a drunk, armed man suddenly got into the passenger side ... and demanded that he drive to an apartment complex." The musician recalled to Pop Buzz that the man hit him with a gun and then held the weapon to Barker's temple. Fortunately, Barker was able to escape and felt grateful to have "made it out alive."

Overcoming drug addiction

Travis Barker's raw memoir also explores his journey to overcoming excessive drug use. In an interview with Vice, Barker admitted to trying a wide variety of drugs and revealed that pills were his "scariest" addiction. The drummer confessed to Billboard that one of his "lowest" moments occurred in 2004, saying, "I was so addicted to Oxycodone, and I had a security that would actually sleep during the day and then stay up at night to make sure I was breathing. That was pretty pathetic."

According to the Vice interview, Barker first attempted to get sober after a therapist asked him, "If you died today would you be the man you want your kids to remember, right now, the way you are?" The rock star desperately wanted to break the unhealthy cycle for the sake of his children, but told the magazine, "I would flush pills down the toilet and throw cigarettes out the window. I was trying my hardest, but I was still hanging on."

A near-death experience finally propelled Barker into achieving sobriety. After a 2008 plane crash left the musician in critical condition, he told Men's Health, "I was in a plane crash ... That was my wake-up call. If I wasn't in a crash, I would have probably never quit." Barker said in Vice that he was so committed to his healthier lifestyle that he even "refused to use any pain medication" after enduring several months of excruciating surgeries.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Travis Barker was unfairly targeted due to his appearance

With his numerous tattoos, backwards hats, and punk-rock wardrobe, Travis Barker certainly looks like the quintessential "bad boy." But in reality? Men's Health once described the rock star as "soft-spoken and gentle," and Vice called him "a responsible father." Barker admitted to Vice in 2015 that some people can't get past his seemingly tough "exterior" and cautioned, "Don't judge a book from the cover."

Admirably, Barker manages to stay calm and respectful when faced with discrimination. The record producer told Vice, "If I go to a restaurant and they don't like me in a torn up Motörhead shirt and they want me to put on a jacket, I'm gonna kindly walk away." In an interview with NME, Barker recalled, "I remember going to this car dealership ... the first thing the guy said to me was like, 'Sir, we don't have a toilet' ... I was ready to buy the car but nobody would talk to me." Barker patiently waited until the staff discovered that he was a famous drummer and could, indeed, afford any of the dealership's cars.

Some of Travis Barker's experiences with prejudice have proven to be even more disturbing. The musician told Salon that he was often targeted by police and pulled over "constantly." He added, "I've been taken out of the car at gunpoint, in front of my children, and asked if I had any weapons in the car, my gang allegiance, where I was hiding the drugs."

A tragic plane crash left Travis Barker covered in burns

According to his memoir, Travis Barker inherited his mother's fear of flying; as he shared with Vice, he even told others that he believed would someday die in a plane crash. In September of 2008, Barker boarded a private jet in South Carolina with his assistant, Chris Baker, his bodyguard, Charles Monroe Still, Jr., and fellow musician and friend Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein. And while Barker always grew nervous before flying, this time was different. As the drummer recalled to Billboard, he called his father before takeoff and eerily proclaimed, "Pops, I have a really strange feeling about this one. Something just tells me it's not right ... I love you, and if anything happens, make sure the kids are taken care of."

Then, disaster struck. As Today recalled, the aircraft "skidded off the runway and burst into flames after striking an embankment." Tragically, both pilots, Chris Baker, and Charles Monroe Still, Jr. were killed upon impact. Barker and Goldstein somehow managed to escape the wreckage.

Travis Barker's nightmare was far from over. As he said in Salon, "Sixty-five percent of my body burned, plus 27 surgeries over a four month span." And the healing process was anything but easy. Barker told Vice, "I think I woke up during 11 out of 27 surgeries. I woke up swinging on doctors, not even knowing what was happening, just waking up in the most extreme excruciating pain." The pain became so unbearable that Barker became suicidal and asked a friend to end his life.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Travis Barker suffered from survivor's guilt and PTSD

In addition to intense physical pain, Travis Barker also suffered from emotional trauma after the plane crash. He told Salon, "I had massive survivor's guilt for a while ... I had to bury two of my best friends, Lil' Chris and Che. I still see Lil Chris's son and Che's mother. I have to answer to them." In 2021, Barker tattooed the words "survivor's" and "guilt" onto his arms — and it's just one of several tributes inked to his body. "I have memorials on my legs for everyone that I lost in my plane crash, friends that have passed over the years, and my mom," he shared with Men's Health.

The crash also left Barker with severe PTSD. He told Men's Health that he was in a "dark" place after coming home from the hospital and added, "I couldn't walk down the street. If I saw a plane [in the sky], I was determined it was going to crash, and I just didn't want to see it." The musician used therapy and family support to regain his mental health, sharing with Fontana Herald News, "I'm definitely blessed ... [Barker's children] motivated me to bounce back and overcome everything I went through."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

DJ AM's death 'destroyed' Travis Barker

In 2008 Travis Barker and Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein formed TRV$DJAM, a musical collaboration project. The pair performed a show together in Columbia, South Carolina, before boarding the ill-fated jet that was meant to bring them back to Los Angeles. The two sole survivors of the crash were close before the tragic accident, but afterwards their bond grew even deeper. Barker told Billboard in 2015, "He was my best friend. It was beyond friendship. It was like there was only one other person in the world."

As previously mentioned, the plane crash was Barker's initial motivation for achieving sobriety. But the musician credits Goldstein for keeping him sober, telling Vice, "Adam was my rehab. I would go to a meeting with him or sit and talk, have dinner. He would take me away from my normal routine. He was a big influence." Sadly, the tragic accident had the opposite effect on the then-sober Goldstein, who began using drugs to cope with his new fear of flying (per Vice). 

Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein died from a drug overdose in August of 2009, only a year after surviving a deadly plane crash. Barker told Salon the news "destroyed" him. He shared with Vice, "That was really hard for me to accept. Just hanging out with Adam you wanted to be a better person, he would rub off on you. Man, I looked up to him in so many ways."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

More health issues and a frightening car accident

Travis Barker had survived a plane crash, lost his closest friends, endured multiple reconstructive surgeries, and overcame drug addiction. Unfortunately, the drummer encountered two more major challenges in the summer of 2018. Earlier in the year, Blink-182 announced they were headed to Las Vegas for a residency. The band had only played a few shows when they announced via Twitter in June that Barker was "suffering from blood clots in both arms" and upcoming shows would be rescheduled.

A few days after Blink-182's announcement, TMZ reported that Barker was also battling cellulitis and a staph infection. His condition was so serious that Blink-182 eventually canceled the remainder of their residency. "The past few months have just sucked," Barker wrote in the announcement that went up on the band's Twitter account. TMZ also reported that he later sued an imaging center for malpractice, and that the lawsuit alleged, "Technicians were unable to find a vein, sticking him at least 40x times in the process with a dirty needle."

Several weeks after his medical issues began, Travis Barker was involved in a major car crash. The day after the accident he told E! News, "My car is totaled but I pretty much walked away ... A school bus ran a red light. It was insane. I have a really big 4x4 G-Wagon and if I wasn't in that, it might have been different but it held up pretty well."

Travis Barker's 'volatile' relationship with Shanna Moakler

On their 2005 MTV reality show "Meet the Barkers," Travis Barker and then-wife Shanna Moakler displayed PDA that would make a teenager blush. And like a teen romance, their union was passionate but short-lived. "The relationship was always dysfunctional, they were always love and hate. It was volatile," a source told People. Barker filed for divorce in 2006.

The couple's volatility was on full display over the next several years. Accusations of infidelity were made by both parties, and as Us Weekly recounted, the two traded insults over MySpace. After a few brief reconciliations, Barker and Moakler's divorce was finalized in 2008. The former spouses continued to spar over custody of their two children and slammed one another's characters in court. Things turned even uglier in 2014 when police were called after Barker and Moakler threatened each other with violence, according to TMZ.

Thirteen years after their divorce, Travis Barker and Shanna Moakler's conflicts became public once more. When Barker began dating his longtime friend Kourtney Kardashian in 2021, Moakler initially insisted to Us Weekly that she was "super happy" for the new couple. But the former Miss USA began to publicly criticize her ex once he and Kardashian dialed up their PDA and raunchy social media posts, calling their display "weird" in People. And while chatting with TMZ, Moakler accused Barker of cheating on her during their marriage with Kim Kardashian. While Barker remained tight-lipped about the drama, he did post a video of a tattoo artist covering up the former couple's initials on his hand.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.