Steve Aoki is one of America’s most successful disc jockeys. Highly energetic during his shows, Aoki is known for his stage antics which include performing stunts into the crowd, pasting fully baked cake on the bodies of some lucky fans and showering them thereafter with champagnes. The last two have become somewhat of a ritual.
The Electronic Dance Music (EDM) star began making international waves in late 2009 and today he has a Grammy-nominated record and earns tens of millions of dollars per year from his passion.
Steve Aoki Wiki/Bio
Steven Hiroyuki Aoki was born on November 30, 1977, in Miami, Florida as the third child to Hiroyuki “Rocky” Aoki the Japanese-born American millionaire founder of Benihana and his first wife Chizuru Kobayashi. Steven grew up in Newport Beach, California where he attended Newport Harbor High School graduating in 1995.
After high school, Steve proceeded to the University of California, Santa Barbara from where he graduated with not one but two Bachelor’s degrees; one in feminist studies and the other in sociology. However, Aoki’s love for music drove him to the world of entertainment. In his early twenties in 1996, Aoki had found his own music label, Dim Mak.
Aoki slowly developed Dim Mak into a brand by throwing parties and soon became popular among American colleges. Subsequently, he relocated to Los Angeles to further develop his brand. Along the way, Aoki became part of a number of bands including Blake Miller, This Machine Kills, The Fire Next Time and Esperanza.
He released his debut mix album Pillowface and His Airplane Chronicles early 2008. By the end of 2009, Aoki had remixed songs of numerous already established acts and even collaborated with some, from Drake to Kanye West and Snoop Dogg. By 2012, Aoki had gained his breakthrough. He earned a Guinness World Record for the most-traveled musician ever, averaging 250 shows per year in at least 40 countries.
His debut solo album Wonderland (2012) received a Grammy nomination which Aoki has said is his greatest achievement thus far. Aoki has since never looked back, releasing an average of one album in two years.
Steve Aoki’s father was equally very popular. He was best known as the founder of Japanese cuisine restaurant chain Benihana, a business he started with the $10,000 he had saved from selling ice cream from a truck in Harlem. In a few years, the restaurant developed into a chain making him a millionaire.
Born in Tokyo, he came to the US as a wrestler after several schools had offered him scholarships due to his wrestling skills. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1995.
Aoki’s dad also raced cars, hot air balloons and boats. He founded a porn magazine and launched a social club but both businesses didn’t last. Throughout his lifetime Rocky Aoki set some records. Known for his love for women, he was married three times. He was married to his third wife Keiko Ono Aoki at the time of his death in 2008. His total number of children were 7.
Aoki has an equally popular sister, Devon Aoki. Born August 10, 1982, she is a fashion model who replaced Naomi Campbell as the face of Versace. Devon acts occasionally and has appeared in such films as 2 Fast 2 Furious, Sin City, and DOA: Dead or Alive. She is married to James Bailey with at least two children.
Net Worth: $75 million
Contrary to what many would like to think after learning that Steve’s dad was the famous Benihana restauranteur, Steve didn’t inherit a dime from his father’s estimated $100 million estate, but had to work his own way to the top.
He started his indie record label Dim Mak with $900 and none of it was his father’s money, Aoki and two of his friends had to bring $300 each to get the label running. However, Steve thanks his father for teaching him to be financially independent. Despite being raised around money, Senior Aoki taught his son to be humble and to value money.
“I wasn’t sheltered or spoiled. All the money I made, I made myself… He worked from nothing so he wanted to give that to his kids – that concept,” Aoki once said of his multi-millionaire dad.
From working in his father’s restaurant Benihana’s kitchen to working as a telemarketer in college and as a bike messenger for a fast food, Aoki worked odd jobs too.
Aoki slowly built a fan following and his personality helped a great deal. Dim Mak which he named after his favorite childhood hero Bruce Lee, began to make waves in the mid-2000s.
Soon, his earnings were enough to snap him a position on Forbes list of the world’s highest earnings DJs. He made the top spot in 2012 and in 2017 he scored $29.5 million, his highest ever with 70% yielding from touring extensively.
In addition to DJing, Aoki bolsters his earnings with other gigs from endorsement deals to acting and voice acting. He learned his voice to a character in Charming (2017). His endorsement partners include Japan Airlines ANA, French wine brand Luc Belaire and more. He owns Dim Mak Collection, a men’s luxury streetwear line. All of these endeavors and more contribute to giving Steve Aoki a net worth of $75 million.
Wife, Girlfriend – Tiernan Cowling
Since attaining celebrity status, Steve Aoki has been linked to only one woman – Tiernan Cowling. Following years of dating, Aoki proposed to her in 2010. In December 2015, they got married in a private ceremony in Maui, Hawaii with close family members in attendance.
Cowling is an Australian model who was born in 1991.