R.I.P. Rick Martinez, a.k.a. DJ Essential

Categories: News, R.I.P.

Rick Martinez (far left) with Z-Trip, Sean Badger, Sean Watson, and Pete Salaz
Lately, we've had to report on far too many deaths in the Arizona music scene. But alas, it's our terrible duty to report that Rick Martinez, better known as DJ Essential, passed away on Thursday, March 21, around 2 p.m. due to complications from cellulitis.

Martinez was 43 years old, and widely recognized as one of the first DJs to bring drum and bass and jungle to Arizona.

Rick Martinez (1969-2013)
Over the years, Martinez had many identities, whether it's DJ Essential, Rikki X, Big Rick, or Rick the Beast. He was known for his sincerity and love of music, which manifested itself through his weekly broadcast Wreckage Metal Radio and his band, Catholic School Girls.

"We basically lived at Roads to Moscow, Stinkweeds, Rockaway Records, and for him later, Swell," says Russel Ramirez, who owned the techo emporium Swell Records. "We went to gigs nearly every other night, and hung out at his father's apartment tape-trading and analyzing music 'til the wee hours of the morning, every night!"

Martinez's brother Scott also fondly remembers Rick's expansive music knowledge: "Rick was about two years ahead of the trends of music, whether it was thrash, hardcore punk, glam, grunge, shoegaze, electronic. He had a tape of Slayer's Reign in Blood three months before the album came out."

Martinez scraped himself after brushing into a coffee table in December 2012, and the wound transformed into cellulitis, according to his friend Andy Myers. Treatment adequately took care of the wound until symptoms reappeared two weeks ago.

"Doctors were feeling that progress was being made, but then things turned for the worse when several viruses appeared," Myers says. "Those viruses manifested and Rick's immune system broke down. It was not until the last four days that the complications became terminal. With the onset of pneumonia, Rick was put on life support. Unfortunately, doctors noted that Rick would only be kept alive if on life support."

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River Jones
River Jones

Damn, Rick was a good guy. He loved to talk about Heavy Metal bands from the 70's and 80's. I'll be listening to Hanoi Rocks today in his honor. Sad news.


This was a very good dude. He was like the John Candy of the DJ community and a walking encyclopedia of all styles of music. I'm thankful to have known Rick, he taught me a lot about music and about being a good person.


Karen Pimental
Karen Pimental

I still can't believe I won't see him again. RIP Rick!

Henri Ng
Henri Ng

A sad loss to the valley

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