It's with great, great sadness that we report that Adam Yauch, the Brooklyn-bred co-founder of the Beastie Boys, passed away today in New York City after a three-year-long battle with cancer. He was 47.
The first thing I did when I heard of his death was hit YouTube. As a life-long Beasties fan I wanted to see Yauch in action, in his element—the tall, cool downtown dude with the gravelly voice, spitting rhymes and dropping lines on the bass. So, here's a collection of the videos I watched to celebrate his life. It's a reminder of how unbelievably talented and prolific Yauch was. There's the Boys' wildly underrated (and my personal fave) instrumental album The In Sound from Way Out; the trailer for his first feature film, Gunnin' For That #1 Spot; the recent remake of the trio's classic "Fight For You Right" video with Seth Rogen, Elijah Wood and Danny McBride; there's even a video about Yauch's Tibetan Freedom benefit concerts.
It's a sad, sad day. Beastie Boys, all day, all night. Don't stop.
Yauch was an avid film buff, directing many Beasties video under his Nathanial Hörnblowér alias, and eventually lauching Oscilloscope Laboratories, which in 2008 released his directorial film debut, the basketball documentary Gunnin' For That #1 Spot. Check out the trailer...
The original party-hearty video. Watch and learn.
I saw the Beastie Boys play their first and only Brooklyn gig in 2007. They closed with this gem. I'll never, ever forget that.
A performance from animated versions of the Beastie Boys' heads.
Yauch was a founder of the Milarepa Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness and activism regarding Tibetan freedom. In 1996, Milarepa produced the first Tibetan Freedom Concert in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, which was attended by 100,000 people, making it the biggest benefit concert on U.S. soil since 1985's Live Aid. The Tibetan Freedom Concert series would go on to stage benefit shows in tin New York City, Washington DC, Tokyo, Sydney, Amsterdam, Taipei and other cities.
In 2009 Yauch filmed a home video announcing that he had cancer in his parotid gland.
The In Sound from Way Out is the Boys' 1996 instrumental album, which you MUST OWN NOW. Sure, the trio is known for fusing rap with rock, but here they dive into jazz-fusion, funk and more. You'd never think this was the same dudes behind "Hey Ladies." The musicianship and tunes are top notch.
One of the best tracks from The In Sound from Way Out is "Sabrosa," a groovy jam led by Mike D on guitar. Watch the Boys perform it live in Germany, below.
Paul's Boutique, arguably the Boys' best album and certainly one of the best albums of the last 30 years, is packed with good songs, from the punk blast of "Egg Man" to the party-sly "Hey Ladies." But if I had to pick my favorite, it's "Shake Your Rump." The rhymes and warped keyboard drones on the chorus are hilarious-genius. "My man MCA gots a beard like a Billy Goat!!!"
The Beastie Boys sat down with PBS' Charlie Rose for a long chat about their career and album The Mix Up.