R.I.P. Beastie Boys' Adam "MCA" Yauch
Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch has died. The 47-year-old musician had been battling cancer since 2009.
In 1979, Yauch started the Beastie Boys as a scrappy teenage punk-rock band. The group's first EP, 1982's Polly Wog Stew, featured Yauch on bass, Michael Diamond on vocals, John Berry on guitar, and Kate Schellenbach (later of Luscious Jackson) on drums. The record included tracks such as "Egg Raid on Mojo" and "Holy Snappers", a video for which you can see below:
Starting with 1983's Cooky Puss EP, the group began to change directions, and by the time they released their 1986 debut album, Licensed to Ill, the Beastie Boys had fully reinvented themselves as a rap trio, complete with new stage names. The Beastie Boys were now Adam "MCA" Yauch, Michael "Mike D" Diamond, and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz. They first hit the charts with the raucous "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)".
The band quickly matured both musically and personally, dropping its hard-partying image and politically incorrect antics. The Beastie Boys released another seven studio albums during MCA's life, selling more than 40 million records worldwide. Last month, the trio was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but Yauch was unable to attend.
Along the way, Yauch became a filmmaker, directing many of the group's videos, and he opened a recording studio, Oscilloscope Laboratories. He also became a Buddhist and a staunch supporter of Tibetan independence, helping to organize a successful series of fundraising Tibetan Freedom Concerts.
In 2009, Yauch was diagnosed with a tumour in his salivary gland. He underwent surgery and radiation therapy treatment and, under the recommendation of his Tibetan doctors, adopted a vegan diet. According to a statement on the official Beastie Boys website, Yauch died this morning in his native New York City.
He is survived by his wife, Tibetan-American activist Dechen Wangdu, and the couple's daughter, Tenzin Losel Yauch, 13.
Here's one of the videos that Yauch, under the name Nathanial Hörnblowér, directed for the Beastie Boys, 1989's "Shake Your Rump":