To some he was a member of group that bought the idea of gratuitous vandalism to Britain, to others he was a musical pioneer. Whichever way you look the American hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, the greater public cannot deny their influence on the world of music and the sadness it will bring to the fans of the band to learn that Adam Yauch, founder of the group alongside Michael Diamond, has died at the age of 47.
Born in Brooklyn in August 1964, Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch had been having treatment for cancer since being diagnosed in 2009 after discovering a tumour in his salivary gland. Born an only child to his social worker mother Frances and father Noel he attended Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn where he taught himself to play the bass guitar.
In later life Yauch became a practising Buddhist and was an influential voice in the Tibetan Independence Movement. A far cry from the attention he and the rest of the band faced when they first came to prominence in Britain during their tour of the debut album Licensed to III. The tour was dogged by controversy which had female members of the crowd dancing in cages and at the Royal Court in Liverpool in 1987 erupted into a riot ten minutes into the show and left fellow member Adam Horovitz facing assault charges by Merseyside police.
As the years past the music the hip hop trio produced became note-worthy and accessible and found its way to being lauded and nominated for various awards. The songs that the bad produced will undoubtedly live long in the memory of all those who had seen them and in classics such (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party), Sabotage, Intergalactic and No Sleep Till Brooklyn the spirit of Adam Yauch can keenly be felt and much missed.
By 2010, The Beastie Boys had sold over 40 million records worldwide and as recently as April of this year, the group were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Adam Yauch was inducted in his absence due to his illness, however his band-mates paid a special tribute to him and a letter from the artist was read to the fans in the crowd.
Fans of the topical sports programme on Radio 5 show Fighting Talk presented by Colin Murray, will remember with fondness each episode opening with the distinctive bass line from the Beastie Boys song Sabotage. If ever there was proof that eventually those outside the fringes of the establishment will be lauded and played even on the B.B.C. need look no further than hearing even a snippet of the iconic song by the rap trio to raise a smile and hope to the future.
Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch, born August 5th, 1964, Brooklyn, New York. Died May 4th, 2012, Brooklyn, New York. He is survived by his wife Dechen and a daughter.
Ian D. Hall