Adam Yauch, Beastie Boys co-founder, dead at 47

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Adam Yauch

Adam Yauch

Gravelly-voiced Adam Yauch, who helped make the Beastie Boys a pio­neer of hip-hop, died Fri­day morn­ing in New York after a nearly three-year bat­tle with can­cer, his rep­re­sen­ta­tives con­firmed. He was 47.

Yauch, also known as MCA, was diag­nosed with a can­cer­ous sali­vary gland in 2009.

With the other Beastie Boys — high school friend Michael “Mike D” Dia­mond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz — he wrote and per­formed “Sure Shot,” which was heard on the sound­track of the 2010 car­toon movie Shrek For­ever After.

As “Nathaniel Horn­blower,” Yauch co-directed the five-minute ani­mated Beastie Boys video Shadrach (1989), which was exec­u­tive pro­duced by Gabor Csupo. He used the Horn­blower pseu­do­nym when work­ing as a filmmaker.

The grey-haired rap­per was born Adam Nathaniel Yauch in Brook­lyn, New York on August 5, 1964. Over 25 years, the Beastie Boys were both humor­ous and series, record­ing four no. 1 albums and sell­ing over 40 mil­lion records.

The group’s music crossed gen­res and color lines, and helped bring rap to a wider audi­ence,” said Record­ing Acad­emy pres­i­dent Neil Port­now. “Yauch was an immense tal­ent and cre­ative visionary.”

Born to a Catholic father and Jew­ish mother, Yauch was a devoted Bud­dhist. He led the trio in per­form­ing con­certs to ben­e­fit Tibet.

When diag­nosed with can­cer, Yauch said he hoped that it was “very treat­able.” How­ever, his ill­ness forced the Beastie Boys to can­cel shows and delayed the release of last year’s album Hot Sauce Com­mit­tee, Pt. 2. In fact, he had not per­formed in pub­lic since 2009.

Yauch was absent last month when the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Sean “Diddy” Combs called Yauch “a true pio­neer and a cre­ative force who paved the way for so many of us.”

I think it’s obvi­ous to any­one how big an influ­ence the Beastie Boys were on me and so many oth­ers,” said Eminem. “They are trail­blaz­ers and pio­neers, and Adam will be sorely missed.”

First planned as a hard­core punk group, the Beastie Boys first per­formed pub­licly on Yauch’s 17th birth­day. They became a hip-hop trio soon after Horovitz joined. The group devel­oped fur­ther after Yauch dropped out of Bard Col­lege fol­low­ing two years of study.

In 1986, the group released its chart-topping debut Licensed to Ill. “Adam was incred­i­bly sweet and the most sen­si­tive artist, who I loved dearly,” Rus­sell Sim­mons, whose Def Jam label released the album, said on his Web site.

In 2008, he co-founded film dis­tri­b­u­tion com­pany Osci­ol­lo­scope Lab­o­ra­to­ries, named after his New York studio.

Adam Yauch is sur­vived by wife Dechen Wangdu and daugh­ter Ten­zin Losel Yauch.

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