Just a few weeks ago, Amjed A. Abdallah garnered national media attention for putting his Ferndale music studio up for sale on eBay, advertising it as a place where Eminem once recorded.
On Tuesday, he was found dead in that studio, lying in blood and shot twice. Well-known on the local music scene for his percussion work with the popular bar band the Howling Diablos, Abdallah was found at about 11:30 a.m. by a customer of the studio at 430 W. Eight Mile, said Ferndale Police Lt. Norm Raymond.
Based on the condition of the body, Raymond said Abdallah could have been dead for as long as two days, and might have been shot on Sunday. Abdallah, 36, -- known to friends as A.J. -- worked at the studio and lived above it in an apartment, Raymond said.
So far, police said, the most likely motive is robbery because recording equipment appears to be missing.
Abdallah's last known conversation was on the telephone with a friend on Sunday, Raymond said. Police said three shots were fired in the studio from a .357-caliber handgun.
Abdallah was well-known in local entertainment circles.
"He was a great musician, a great entertainer," said Tino Gross, the front man for the Howling Diablos. "He was a very colorful character whom people loved, a fun-loving guy, very soulful."
Abdallah came to the United States from his native Jordan about 15 years ago, first settling in Cincinnati, where he got married -- and divorced -- and had a son, Gross said. After about five years, Abdallah moved to Detroit, where he became part of the music scene.
He played percussion and sang backup for the Howling Diablos after jamming with them at the Bear's Den in Berkley, where the band was a Sunday night fixture.
"He came in one night with a conga and started jamming with us," Gross said. "He added this beat, a mystical rhythmic groove, which we immediately recognized. He's one of us, regardless of where he comes from. It was great chemistry."
Using what he learned in engineering school in Jordan -- where his brother had a successful recording career -- Abdallah got involved in studio work and produced Middle Eastern music, Gross said. He also married a woman he met at the famed Berkley venue and then divorced a second time.
Faster-paced New York appealed to him and he briefly relocated to Brooklyn, where he owned and operated a studio. He returned to Motown three years ago, Gross said.
"The Detroit music was really happening and he wanted to be a part of that and he bought the studio he was killed in," Gross said. "Music was his main love. He liked technical things, which is real common with people who open studios. When we were on tour, he'd have his head buried in a text manual."
The 1,500-square-foot studio, advertised as "Eminem Recording Studio" on eBay, was put up for sale in the online auction Dec. 15. It was built in 1950, according to the Internet auction Web site. There was one offer for $215,000 on it and bidding was set to close on Jan. 14.
There also is sign on the front of the studio with a real estate agent's number, and a small yellow placard above the door that reads: "Recording Studio, Eminem's First Album."
Still, despite claims that tied the studio to the metro Detroit rapper, it was not where he recorded his major label breakthrough, "The Slim Shady LP," most of which was recorded in Los Angeles.
Fawazi Yousif, who owns an auto repair shop down the road from the studio, said he had repaired Abdallah's white Volvo just before Christmas, and was shocked to hear that he had been killed.
"I came to work today and someone said there had been a shooting," said Yousif, 50, of Madison Heights.
The Howling Diablos will dedicate their next concert -- Jan. 23 at the Attic in Hamtramck -- to Abdallah.
Ferndale Police are asking anyone who might have information about the shooting to call them at 248-541-3650 anytime.
BY FRANK WITSIL and ZLATI MEYER
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS