The music world lost one of its greats this weekend as Adam Yauch, also known as MCA, of the Beastie Boys died early Friday morning of cancer. As co-founding member of the three-time Grammy winning hip-hop group, he played an instrumental part in the groundbreaking trios success.
What started out as a punk band with his friend Mike D. morphed into something creatively intriguing in 1986 as the added Adam Horowitz (also known as Ad-Rock) to become the hip-hop trio known as the Beastie Boys. With their debut album License to Ill they quickly rose to stardom. While the band went through various musical metamorphoses over the years, the trio never lost their bravado or free spirited, genre-bending approach to music.
In 2009 Yauch announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer after doctors discovered a tumor on his salivary gland. The group cancelled their current tour so that Yauch could focus on his treatment that included surgery and radiation therapy.
In 2011 the group released Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 which topped the charts worldwide. The group’s decade spanning success allowed them to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this April, although Yauch was unable to attend the ceremony.
Outside of the Beastie Boys, Yauch was also a social activist and co-founder of the Tibetan Freedom concert during the 90s. The concert, which attracted major players like Rage Against the Machine and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, raised over $800,000 toward Tibetan social justice causes. “One thing Buddhism teaches is the only thing that brings us lasting happiness, that really makes us happy, is when we do things to benefit other people. Trying to make money, buy cool sneakers, those things don’t lead to any lasting happiness,” he once explained in an interview with MTV.
What most fans don’t know is that Yauch was also the founder of the Oscilloscope Laboratories film studio based in New York City. An indie distribution company, the studio has released a number of monumental films including No Impact Man, The Messenger and Exit Through the Gift Shop.
Yauch’s creative genius and passion for his work will be greatly missed in the entertainment industry.