Adam Yauch of the pioneering rap/rock group The Beastie Boys died Friday at the age of 47, following a three-year battle with cancer.
Yauch, known as MCA, performed with bandmates and fellow Brooklyn natives Mike “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz beginning in 1979. The group was the first major white hip-hop act, and recorded such seminal albums as Paul’s Boutique, Licensed to Ill, Ill Communication, and Hello Nasty, selling more than 40 million records.
The Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year.
Yauch also directed many of the group’s music videos under the pseudonym “Nathanial Hörnblowér”, as well as the “crowdsourced” concert documentary “Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!”
To Americans of a certain generation, the Beastie Boys made as big an impact, over a longer period of time, as just about any group, toggling between hip-hop, rock and other genres.
In first grade, my friends and I tested each other on whether we could remember all the lyrics to “Paul Revere.” And even though all three members eventually embraced Buddhism, their Jewish identity was a special point of pride for those of the tribe. I saw them perform in Tel Aviv in March 1995.
Yauch is survived by his wife and daughter, as well as his mother and father.