It’s always surprising when someone so young dies, especially when famous, but the death of Beastie Boys Adam Yauch today, May 4th after a 3 year-long battle with a rare form of cancer, salivary gland cancer, caught me by surprise.
Yauch, 47, also known by his rap moniker “MCA” co-founded the Beastie Boys with Mike “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz in 1979 in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Beastie’s smashed onto the music scene in 1986 with the album ”Licensed to Ill” and from that the anthem ”Fight for your right to Party” which was a massive hit for the band putting them on the charts and bringing hip hop into the mainstream.
After transforming the hip hop industry – white guys don’t rap, let alone Jewish ones (Yauch was born to a Jewish mother and Catholic father but was a practising Buddhist) - Yauch turned his attention to Buddhism and Tibetan independence in which he helped set up the Tibetan Freedom Concerts, which helped raise money for Tibetan independence. He felt that he needed to give a voice to the Tibetan cause and help them get free from Chinese rule.
Yauch also helped form the successful production company Oscilloscope Pictures, which many did not know about him, which released acclaimed films such as “Wendy and Lisa,” “Burma VJ” and “We Need to Talk About Kevin.”
Under the pseudonym “Nathanial Hörnblowér” (his middle name was Nathanial), Yauch directed many of the Beastie Boys’ music videos, making his televised debut as Hörnblowér at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards as he stormed the stage in costume to protest after R.E.M. won the award for Best Direction over the Spike Jonze-directed Beastie Boys video “Sabotage”, which was a great video and a really good song.
I suspected he was starting to lose his battle with this disease when the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last month, and Yauch was not there – the award was accepted by Diamond and Horowitz although they read a letter written by Yauch and them, nad the other bands dedicated their performances to Yauch.
Yauch leaves behind his wife and daughter who would be around 14-years-old.
Did you know this fact about the Beastie Boys; According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term mullet – the hairstyle which is short on the top and long on the back – was “apparently coined, and certainly popularized, by the Beastie Boys who used “mullet” and “mullet head” as epithets in their 1994 song “Mullet Head”. The Beastie Boys’ fanzine Grand Royal Magazine was the first to use the term in print
Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch dies at age 47 (Photo credit: rusty-boxcars)
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