Beastie Boys Founder Adam 'MCA' Yauch Dead at 47

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Beastie Boys: (L-R) Adam Horovitz, Mike Diamond and Adam Yauch at the 11th Annual Webby Awards in 2007. The Beastie Boys: (L-R) Adam Horovitz, Mike Diamond and Adam Yauch at the 11th Annual Webby Awards in 2007. (Bryan Bedder/Getty)

Adam Yauch, founder of the Beastie Boys, died Friday morning in New York City after a nearly 3-year battle with cancer. He was 47.

Yauch's publicist and Def Jam, which released the Beastie Boys' first album, Licensed to Ill, confirmed his death.

The Brooklyn-born rapper, known as MCA, was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 after a tumor was discovered in his salivary gland. He had undergone surgery and radiation, which caused the bandmembers to delay the release of their 2011 album, Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2, and cancel parts of their tour.

Yauch taught himself to play bass in high school and, in 1979, formed the trio with Michael "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Adrock" Horowitz during his 17th birthday party, according to his publicist.

The Beastie Boys went on to sell more than 40 million records, win three Grammys and the MTV Video Vanguard Lifteime Achievement award. Yauch did not attend the Beastie Boys' induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April.

The rapper also founded the Milarepa Fund, a non-profit dedicated to promoting awareness and activism about Tibet, and directed many of the group's videos, including "So Whatcha Want," "Intergalactic," "Body Movin," "Ch-Check It Out," "Fight For Your Right Revisited," and "Make Some Noise," according to his publicist.

In 2008, he founded the production company Oscilloscope Laboratories, which released such movies as "Banksy's Exit Through The Gift Shop," and  Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze's "Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait Of Maurice Sendak."

The Beastie Boys' label, Columbia Records, declined to comment on Yauch's death.

Yauch is survived by his wife, Dechen, his daughter, Tenzin Losel, and his parents, Frances and Noel Yauch.

Watch the Beasties' 1986 video for "Fight For Your Right" below.

And here's "No Sleep Till Brooklyn":


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Comments [7]


This is a great loss .. my heart goes out to all who loved him. . THANKS MCA .. for all the fun and the great memories. .I will forever be listening with fondness and love are loved and will be missed. .

May. 05 2012 06:48 AM
Eric in Baltimore from Baltimore, MD

Like Ben, I'm 40 years old and grew up with the band. All three Beastie Boys, but particularly Adam Yauch were a kind of maturation epic writ large for artistically inclined knuckleheads of a certain age. It was inspiring to watch the growth of the band over the years as well as their dedication to worthwhile causes. Yauch's willingness to be a polymath served as a wonderful example for anyone who has the creative urge but finds it difficult to restrict themselves to one pursuit.

He really was cooler than cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce.

May. 04 2012 10:30 PM
chris rocco

a sad day for rock & roll...he was one of the good ones.

May. 04 2012 04:37 PM

This comment comes to WNYC from Oscilloscope:

"We are deeply, deeply saddened by the passing of Adam Yauch -– an amazing leader, a dear friend and an incredible human being. Today we are heartbroken at Oscilloscope as we take in this awful news and our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. Adam's legacy will remain a driving force at Oscilloscope –- his indomitable spirit and his great passion for film, people, and hard work -- always with a sense of humor and a lot of heart."

May. 04 2012 03:55 PM
Ben In Brooklyn

Very sad news. I'm 40 years old and grew up with the Beastie boys. Very fond memories of high school - driving around with my friends (I'm from CA) listening to Rhymin' and Stealin' full blast. License to Ill was as close to an anthem for my friends (for others it was Def Leppard) as we got. And my gateway to other great hip hop music.

May. 04 2012 03:34 PM

This comment comes to WNYC from It's A Free Country's pop and politics blogger, Jeff Yang:

"He was a phenomenal musician, a man of faith and grace, and a rare individual whose private works on behalf of the causes he cared about -- like Tibetan self-determination -- shone as bright as his public ones."

May. 04 2012 03:22 PM

This comment comes to WNYC from Sophie Harris, Music Critic for Time Out New York:

"All of us here at TONY were absolutely gutted to hear of Adam Yauch's passing. While it wasn't unexpected, it can't help but come as a shock when someone who you associate with being so very alive, is gone.

"In their early days, the Beasties exemplified a kind of local pride that's fundamental to New Yorkers -- as well as an unbridled, gleeful obnoxiousness that's equally prevalent in New Yorkers, teenager and oldster alike. Our film editor interviewed Yauch several times and said today something I've been reading all over the Internet -- what a straight-up, lovely person he was. Over and above Adam Yauch's enormous artistic and philanthropic achievements, that really seems to be the feeling today."

May. 04 2012 03:21 PM

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