Adam Yauch, the gravel-voiced co-founder of Grammy-winning hip-hop group The Beastie Boys, died Friday after a three-year battle with cancer, the band’s rep confirmed the sad news on its website.
“It is with great sadness that we confirm that musician, rapper, activist and director Adam “MCA” Yauch .. passed away in his native New York City this morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer. He was 47 years old.” said a statement.
Adam’s mother Frances told the New York Times that her son died at 9 a.m. on Friday, surrounded by family (wife Dechen, daughter Tenzin Losel, as well as his parents Frances and Noel), at Manhattan’s New York-Presbyterian Hospital, to which he had been admitted on April 14.
The 47-year-old, better known by his stage name MCA and who also supported Tibetan rights, died weeks after the pioneering white hip-hop act were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, although he was too ill to attend.
In July 2009, Yauch announced that he would be receiving treatment for a cancerous tumor in his salivary gland, and that, as a result, the Beastie Boys would cancel some future shows and push back the release of a new album. The group hasn’t appeared live since the summer of that year.
Born in Brooklyn, Yauch taught himself to play bass in high school, forming a band for his 17th birthday party that would later become known the world over as the Beastie Boys.
The Beasties’ lineup of Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Yauch came together in 1983; the group’s debut album, 1986’s “Licensed To Ill,” was produced by Rick Rubin and featured iconic singles like “No Sleep Til Brooklyn,” “Brass Monkey” and “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party).”
After touring the world behind “Ill,” the Beastie Boys changed up their sound with 1989 album “Paul’s Boutique,” a critically lauded, sample-heavy record that featured production from the Dust Brothers, reports the Billboard.
The band sold over 40 million records and released four number one albums, including the first hip-hop album ever to top the Billboard 200, the band’s 1986 debut full length, “Licensed To Ill.”
The Beastie Boys won three Grammys: two in 1998 – best rap performance and best alternative music performance – and one in 2007, best pop instrumental album, for “The Mix Up,” according to the Grammys website.
Tributes began pouring in even before his death was confirmed – on Twitter it became the top trending topic, under the hashtag #RIPMCA. “Another very sad day in Hip Hop. #MCARIP,” said rapper Ice-T, adding: “I’m going Twitter silent today in honor of MCA. Rest In Peace homie.”
Rapper Snoop Dogg tweeted, “RIP MCA U are a Legend and a pioneer,” and rocker Fred Durst wrote, “A very sad day indeed. Adam Yauch RIP.” Even NY Senator Chuck Schumer passed on his condolences, tweeting “Born and Bred in Brooklyn, U.S.A., they call him Adam Yauch, but he’s M.C.A. RIP Adam.”
Yauch was involved in support for Tibet, and helped organize charity concerts for the cause in the 1990s. He recently became a vegan at the recommendation of his Tibetan doctors. He was also a founding member of film production and distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories.
Yauch did not appear at a ceremony to induct the Beastie Boys into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April, where Diamond and Horovitz read an acceptance speech on his behalf.
“I’d like to dedicate this to my brothers Adam and Mike,” he wrote. “They walked the globe with me. It’s also for anyone who has ever been touched by our band. This induction is as much ours as it is yours,” it read.
His cancer treatment delayed the release of the group’s most recent album, “Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2,” which was already tipped to do well and could debut at the top of the Billboard chart after Yauch’s death, CNN reported.
Tributes came not only from the hip hop community. “Crushed to hear the news of Adam Yauch’s passing. A true pioneer of art,” said actor-singer Justin Timberlake, while actor Ben Stiller called him “a truly great musician & filmmaker.”
British pop hearthrobs Duran Duran said: “”Rest in Peace Adam Yauch. Our condolences to your friends and family,” while indie star Moby added: “I’m very very sad to hear of Adam Yauch’s passing. He was a wonderful, generous, remarkable, and inspiring man and friend.”