How the Kardashians turned punk legend Travis Barker into the media star of 2022

The drummer from Blink-182 has been successful on stage and off, with his marriage to Kourtney Kardashian putting him back in the headlines

Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker at the Grammy Awards in April.
Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker at the Grammy Awards in April.Jordan Strauss (AP)

Just a few days before signing the contract that would forever transform the meaning of the term “celebrity,” a mostly unknown Kim Kardashian contacted Travis Barker for advice. The year was 2006, and the young woman, who was beginning to make a name for herself as an assistant and confidante to Paris Hilton, had an offer to star with her sisters in a docuseries for television. “I said, as long as you have nothing to hide with your family, and you want to put it all out there, do it,” the Blink-182 drummer recalled in an interview last May. Barker was ahead of his time: in 2005, he starred in the MTV reality show Meet the Barkers, which was about his family’s day-to-day life. Kardashian took his advice. She gave the green light to The Kardashians, a TV show that has run for 20 seasons and counting, built a multi-million dollar empire and turned its protagonists into global stars. More than a quarter of a century after that meeting, Barker himself has become part of the famous clan.

“Life’s been a movie lately,” the Californian wrote on Twitter in April, summarizing the turn of events since February 2021. That was when Kourtney Kardashian confirmed her relationship with Travis Barker in a message on Instagram. The image of their intertwined hands received almost four million likes. The announcement marked a new beginning for the eldest sister of the family, who separated from the father of her three children, Scott Disick, in 2015. Kardashian now has a fortune close to €65 million thanks to her work as a model, businesswoman and television celebrity. A few months after making their relationship public, Barker – who has been married twice before – and Kardashian announced they were engaged. In May, they were married.

Coincidence or not, Barker managed to time the renewed media attention with an impressive music comeback. Considered by Rolling Stone as one of the 100 best drummers of all time, Barker has become an ambassador of 2000 pop punk. But Baker is more than a drummer. The artist behind hits such as All the Small Things is also a style icon, notable for his characteristic tattoos. He brought punk, skate and rap trends together with the accessibility of pop music. Few artists today can boast of such influence.

In the past few months, Travis Barker has taken the stage at the Oscars, the Grammys and the recent Tommy Hilfiger show at New York Fashion Week. He walked on the red carpet at the exclusive Met Gala for the first time, dressed by Thom Browne. And he produced one of the best-selling albums of 2022: Mainstream Sellout, by Machine Gun Kelly. He is working on the next studio album from Blink-182, and has collaborated with Gen Z icons including Willow, Halsey and Young Thug. He also revived the career of Avril Lavigne, who signed with his label DTA Records last year. And that’s not all: Barker also has a vegan cosmetics brand (Barker Wellness) and a restaurant franchise (Crossroads Kitchen) focused exclusively on plant-based products.

But Travis Barker’s hectic schedule isn’t just the result of his passion for music and his work ethic. For 13 years, he avoided flying after surviving a 2008 plane crash, which claimed the lives of four of the six crew members of the private jet in which he was traveling. The other survivor, Adam Goldstein, a DJ and regular Barker collaborator, died of a drug overdose a year later. Barker suffered burns to 65% of his body and had to undergo almost 30 surgeries and skin grafts during the more than three months he was hospitalized. “I’ve been on my deathbed so I know opinions don’t matter. What matters is: did I live my life the way I wanted to without compromise? That’s what’s important to me,” the artist told Vanity Fair. In August 2021, he got back on a plane. He hasn’t stopped flying since then, crediting his recent wife with showing him that “anything is possible.”

Travis isn’t the only member of the Barker family trying to ride the wave of the Kardashian’s popularity. His children from his marriage to actress Shanna Moakler, which lasted from 2004 to 2008, have also taken advantage of their stepmother’s media pull. Both Landon, 18, and Alabama, 16, have more than half a million followers on Instagram. Alabama is taking his first steps in the music world, while Landon has become a model and influencer. A few weeks ago, he confirmed he was dating TikTok star Charli D’Amelio.

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