Adam “MCA” Yauch passed away at the age of 47 on Friday. The Brooklyn native was diagnosed with cancer of the salivary gland in 2009. After he underwent radiation treatment, media reports stated he was cancer-free, but Adam denied those reports and said they were exaggerated. The Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last month, with Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz reading an acceptance speech on behalf of Yauch, who was unable to attend.
Most know the story of the amazing and unexpected success the Beastie Boys achieved in a relatively short period of time. MCA, who taught himself how to play bass, formed a punk band with Mike D that was inspired by the discovery of The Clash’s London Calling. Soon after, the band changed their lineup and brought in Ad-Rock. When the band performed live, they would goof around and rap in between their punk songs. They realized the audience was more interested in their rapping, so the group decided to change gears. At the same time, Rick Rubin, who formed Def Jam Recordings with Russell Simmons, caught wind of the band and decided to produce their debut release on Def Jam entitled Licensed to Ill in 1986. The album topped the Billboard charts and history was made as hip-hop crossed over into the white, suburban youth of America.
Besides his scratchy voiced contribution to the Beastie Boys, Yauch started the nonprofit Milarepa Fund, which presented the Tibetan Freedom Concert series to raise awareness of Chinese control of Tibet. In addition to his charitable work, MCA developed Oscilloscope Laboratories, a film distribution and production company. Under the alias of Nathanial Hörnblowér, Yauch directed iconic Beastie Boys videos including “So Whatcha Want,” “Intergalactic,” “Body Movin” and “Ch-Check It Out.” He also directed last year’s Fight For Your Right Revisited under his own name. He is survived by his wife Dechen and his daughter Tenzin Losel, as well as his parents Frances and Noel Yauch. Adam’s contribution to music was immense and his voice will live on forever. Watch the Beastie Boys’ “Body Movin'”, directed by Yauch, below.