Beastie Boys member MC Adam “MCA” Yauch, who died today at age 47 from cancer, grew up in Brooklyn Heights, where he taught himself to play bass as a teen and formed the trio with Mike “Mike D” Diamond & Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz on his 17th birthday. Mike D, meanwhile, was a graduate of local St. Ann’s School.
Despite bios alleging Yauch was raised in Midwood, Brooklyn, he actually attended Edward R. Murrow High School in that nabe and was raised in the Heights, according to numerous obituary posts Friday.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz issued the following statement: “Brooklyn, the Creative Capital of New York City, has made so many great contributions to music and the arts, and in the world of hip hop, they don’t come much bigger than Brooklyn native Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch and his fellow Beastie Boys. Of course, Adam’s home borough was immortalized in the Beastie Boys’ 1987 hit, ‘No Sleep Till Brooklyn,’ and he never forgot where he came from with lyrics like ‘Open Letter to NYC’’s ‘At lunch I’d go to Blimpies down on Montague Street and hit the Fulton Street Mall for the sneakers on my feet.'”
Yauch was an only child, the son of painter Frances and architect Noel Yauch. After forming the Beasties, then a hardcore punk band, the white trio meshed punk and rap into a singular sensation, breaking through hip-hop racial barriers with blockbuster 1986 album “Licensed to Ill” on Russell Simmons’ Def Jam Records. The trio is regarded as one of the most influential hip-hop acts of all time, and helped turn the genre into a mainstream force around the world. Beastie Boys are, of course, best known for teen angst anthem “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party).” In all, the group sold 40 million albums and had four No. 1 records.
Yauch also directed Beastie Boys’ videos as well as 2008 basketball documentary “Gunnin’ for #1 Spot,” and he ran a film production and distribution company. He is survived by his wife and daughter.
He was diagnosed with a cancerous salivary gland in 2009, and had been undergoing treatment for a cancerous parotid gland and a lymph node, which prevented him from attending the Beasties April induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. The group had not performed together since 2009.
BHB reader Hoppy recognizes that the group had Brooklyn Heights in its blood and lyrics in this OTW comment: “I’m saddened by the death of Brooklyn Heights’ own MCA.”
Some locally relevant lyrics:
“Every Morning I Took The Train To High Street Station
Doing Homework On The Train, What A F**ked Up Situation”
“So I’m out pickin’ pockets at the Atlantic Antic
And nobody wants to hear you cause your rhymes are so frantic”
Mrs. Fink adds via Facebook: “In 2004’s ‘Open Letter to NYC,’ Adam Yauch prayed ‘Dear New York I hope you’re doing well/I know a lot’s happen and you’ve been through hell/So we give thanks for providing a home.’ I always thought if it as a prayer somehow… And, in turn, I wish the same for him on this next step of his journey.”
And BHB founder Homer Fink offers: “The Beastie Boys influenced a generation. As program director of WNYU backintheday, your humble publisher got to witness the birth of the band. My old pal Timmy Sommer helped them along by playing their music on his legendary “Noise the Show.” This intro was immortalized on the band’s 1994 compilation Some Old Bullshit:
Our thoughts are with Yauch’s family and our many friends who worked with him closely for most of the band’s career.”
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