I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

Ill Sleep When Im Dead

Emily Hahn

In case you didn’t know, Benihana is a restaurant chain serving Japanese cuisine at more than 70 different locations in the United States. It popularized the Teppanyaki style of cuisine in the U.S., where chefs prepare the food on a large grill in front of customers. Hiroaki (Rocky) Aoki, a Japanese immigrant, opened the first Benihana restaurant in 1964 in New York City. What many people may not realize is that Aoki’s son Steve has become a celebrity all throughout the world. His life is chronicled in the documentary “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,” which is available on Netflix. So how did Steve Aoki achieve his fame?

Here are five possible explanations to Steve’s stardom, and all have something to do with the family’s success. Can you guess which one was the key to his success???

  1. He was a champion wrestler inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame.
  2. He held the record for the longest balloon ride ever.
  3. He was world backgammon champion.
  4. He was a super-model and actor.
  5. He became a world-renowned DJ and Grammy nominated producer.



Rocky Aoki, not his son Steve, was a member of the Japanese Olympic wrestling team. After moving to the United States in 1960 and attending C.W. Post University in Long Island, Rocky won three consecutive Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) titles, and was inducted into America’s National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1995.



In 1981, Rocky Aoki and three other men set the record for the longest flight on a balloon, when they traveled from Japan to the United States across the Pacific Ocean for a distance of 5209 miles. It took until 2015 for their record to be broken.



Rocky Aoki, who died in 2008, was also a world champion backgammon player, won the first Moscow-to-Milan car rally, and was a champion speedboat racer. His children definitely had big shoes to fill! (And they definitely did, in case you were wondering.)



Devon Aoki, Rocky’s daughter, is an actress and fashion model. In 1998, when she was 16, she became the face of Versace, the world famous Italian luxury fashion company. Devon has appeared in numerous music videos and feature films including 2 Fast 2 Furious and Sin City.



Devon’s half brother, and Rocky’s son, is the DJ Steve Aoki. Forbes magazine ranked Steve number 4 on the list of the highest paid DJ’s in the world in 2015, tied with Skrillex with $24 million in earnings. The top three were Calvin Harris ($66 million), David Guetta ($37 million), and Tiësto ($36 million).

Aside from being Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriend, Calvin Harris has earned fame with numerous collaborations with superstars such as Rihanna, Ne-Yo, and Florence Welch, producing hit songs like “We Found Love,” “Let’s Go,” and “Sweet Nothing.” David Guetta has had huge hits as well, including “Without You” (featuring Usher) and “Titanium” (featuring Sia).

Steve Aoki, on the other hand, has made most of his fortune performing shows throughout the world, including Europe, Latin America, and Asia. In 2015, Aoki performed 216 shows, earning as much as $100,000 per night. Although Aoki does not have any recognizable hits played on popular U.S. radio stations, he has received a Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronica Album in 2013. Aoki is also a producer and owner of the record label, Dim Mak, representing numerous musical artists.


It seems odd that the son of a restaurant chain owner is a world-renowned DJ. However, learning about his father’s life gives clues to the connection. Anyone in Manhasset knows that Benihana is not a typical restaurant. The cooks prepare meals with an array of ingredients in front of their customers, mixing and tossing the food for the cheering customers. The DJ has a computer full of music, and mixes them in front of their cheering dancing fans. Much like his father, Steve Aoki is an ambitious hard-working businessman, as well as a performer, who strives for recognition and fame. The documentary, “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,” effectively illustrates Steve’s admiration for his father, and demonstrates the many similarities that they share. Rocky sadly died before Steve achieved his success. Without a doubt, if Rocky were alive, he would be glowing over the achievements of his son, the eternal DJ Aoki.