Just a day before HBO aired the 2012 Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony, which included The Beastie Boys, the group lost one of their own on May 4, 2012.
Adam “MCA” Yauch was born in Brooklyn on August 5, 1964. He started a band for his 17th birthday, after teaching himself how to play bass, in 1979. The Beastie Boys, as they were called, were originally a very different group then we would come to know and love. The line-up included Yauch, Mike Diamond, Kate Schellenbach and Jon Berry, who were a hardcore punk act.
By the time Yauch was 22, the Beastie Boys were a hip hop trio. Along with Yauch, the other members included Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Adrock” Horovitz. The group found their minor success in 1983 with their first hip hop track “Cooky Puss,” which was based on a prank call by the group to Carvel Ice Cream. Soon, the track became a hit in the New York underground dance clubs and night clubs.
The success of “Cooky Puss” made the band transformed their act into a full fledged hip hop act, which saw them even hire a DJ by the name of Rick Rubin. Rubin asked the Beastie Boys to join his new label Def Jam Recordings and released their first 12” EP Rock Hard in 1985.
In 1986 The Beastie Boys released License To Ill. The album became the best selling rap album of the 1980s, as well as, the first rap album to reach No.1 on the Billboard album chart – where it stayed for five weeks. License To Ill also reached No.2 on the Urban album charts, was Def Jam’s fastest selling debut record to date and sold over five million copies. The album’s first single, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)”, reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, and it’s video became an MTV staple.
After License To Ill, The Beastie Boys would go on to sell over 40 million records, they also won three Grammy Awards and were recipients of the MTV Video Vanguard Lifetime Achievement award. In short, if you listened to music for the last 25 years, you’ve definitely heard The Beastie Boys on pretty much every radio station and saw their legendary videos on MTV.
Outside of The Beastie Boys, Yauch was a Buddhist and spoke loudly on the Tibetan independence movement. He created the Milarepa Fund, a non-profit organization devoted to Tibetan independence, and also organized benefit concerts to support this cause, which included the Tibetan Freedom Concert.
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Milarepa organized New Yorkers Against Violence. This was a benefit headlined by Beastie Boys at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, with proceeds disbursed to the New York Women’s Foundation Disaster Relief Fund and the New York Association for New Americans (NYANA) September 11th Fund for New Americans–each chosen for their efforts on behalf of 9/11 victims least likely to receive help from other sources.
Yauch, under the alias of Nathanial Hörnblowér, also directed videos for The Beastie Boys which included “So Whatcha Want,” “Intergalactic,” “Body Movin” and “Ch-Check It Out. He also directed last year’s Fight For Your Right Revisited, an extended video for “Make Some Noise” from Beastie Boys’ Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, starring Elijah Wood, Danny McBride and Seth Rogen as the 1986 Beastie Boys, making their way through a half hour of cameo-studded misadventures before squaring off against Jack Black, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as Beastie Boys of the future.
In 2008, he founded the film studio Oscilloscope Laboratories, which released his directorial film debut, the basketball documentary Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot.
In 2009, Yauch was diagnosed with cancer in his parotid (salivary) gland, which forced the Beasties to cancel their tour. In response, the band made great use of the Internet to stay connected with their fans. They streamed their last album, the Hot Sauce Committee pt. 2, for free on their website.
Within minutes of the news hitting Twitter in regards to Yauch’s death, nine of the top 10 trending topics in the US referenced MCA or an album by the Beasties.
Also, a wide range of musicians have paid tribute to Yach. These artists have included everyone from Eminem, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, LL Cool J, Coldplay, Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam, Joel Madden of Good Charlotte, Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Russell Simmons.
Image Source: I Listen, So You Don’t Have To