May 042012

Wow, as I wrapped up a long day at work on a mighty 2 hours of sleep I just read that Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys has died from cancer at the age of 47.  This feels sadder to me than most celebrity deaths involving artists I’m not particularly involved with. To be honest, there’s a chance I wouldn’t be able to tell you which Beastie Boy was Yauch if you showed me a picture of the three of them. However, I liked their team spirit, and no member of a team as funny and spirited as the Beastie Boys should have to die like that. I remember reading that Yauch was battling with cancer a couple of years ago, but come on, this was a guy pretty much my age with a lot of energy and a great sense of humor. He’d laugh his way through cancer and send it scurrying on its way.

It took me awhile to like much in the way of rap music, and to this day I’m skeptical of the genre, but the Beastie Boys’ appeal was hard to deny. They were in your face and funny, the way a couple of my friends were funny. Even before I liked any of their music I couldn’t help but like them, if only because they had tapped into a pop culture humor completely specific to my generation. The following fanboy video, in which a group of friends possibly much like my own mates re-creates the band’s amazing “Sabotage” video, says a lot about what made the real McCoys so lovable.


  11 Responses to “This Shit Ain’t Right: Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch Dead at 47”

  1. cliff sovinsanity

    This is really sad. You just know that if Adam hadn’t succumbed to cancer that the Beasties would be forever touring or working on a new album. Regardless on how you might feel about rap or hip-hop, the longevity of the Beastie Boys should be respected. They never gave up on themselves or their audience. A lot people wrote them off by 1987, but they kept coming back, maintaining their relevance and integrity.
    They managed to show up a lot of other “crews” with their 12 round knockout Paul’s Boutique, reinvented themselves in the era of alternative with Ill Communication, and produced whip smart sonic adventures on Hello Nasty and Hot Sauce. Committee.
    Despite his gruff voice, he always came across as soft spoken during interviews. I pray this Buddhist found his inner peace.

  2. Happiness Stan

    Very sad news. The question was recently asked about acts one doesn’t like whose interviews one always enjoys. Hip-hop/rap means nothing to me, (although Fight For Your Right is a GREAT pop song), but I would read interviews with the Beastie Boys because they were always fun and funny and full of the joy of being alive – maybe it was the Buddhism, or maybe he was just naturally like that, but all three of them strike/struck me as fundamentally decent people, and it’s always sad to see another of the good guys bow out.

  3. ladymisskirroyale

    Mr. Royale broke it to me just before my ride home tonight and the news really darkened the weekend.

    You three have said it so well already. A group of guys who appeared to love what they did and then took it to another artistic level yet still keeping the sense of humor or lightness. Like Mod said, I count very few rap/hip-hop bands among those I really enjoy, and the Beasties were one of them.

  4. ladymisskirroyale

    Ya think Carvel will be selling out of Cookie Pusses this weekend?

  5. Right! “Licensed to Ill” was a major part of the soundtrack to my freshman year in college, and while after “Paul’s” I never really dug deeper than their hits I’ve always been up for some Beasties. Instant Good Times. Saw them in Philly in ’04 at the FEZtival and was knocked out by how *tight* they were on-stage. They had their game down cold and were a non-stop whirlwind in concert.

    And as hot as the video was for “Sabotage” I’ve always enjoyed live footage of it. In light of the recent bass playing post, I’d point out MCA’s style here and ask, “Who in hell channels Richie Havens on bass? MCA!!!!”

    To Adam Yauch! Luck, Thanks, and Enjoy the Next Step!!


  6. bostonhistorian

    When I think of bands that just had joy in playing together, the Beastie Boys are always at the top of that list–I can’t remember ever seeing them not look like they were having fun. They always struck me as half guys who couldn’t believe they were being successful doing what they doing and half guys that were talented, driven, and knew *exactly* what they were doing. That’s not an easy balance to maintain. “The New Style” still makes me smile every time I hear it and Paul’s Boutique is a landmark in any kind of music.

  7. sammymaudlin

    Like Mod, celebrity deaths rarely touch me, including music related ones. If by chance I’m actually a fan then they probably died of old age or more likely an overdose or choking on vomit, not their own…

    I can actually only think of two others that really touched me as sad. I cried when Lennon’s death was relayed and shed a tear or two for Joe Strummer. In both of these cases, they are men/artists that I love, treasure, respect and look up to. Both of these guys provided genuine growing-up help to me via their music and who they were. And both died too damn early.

    I can’t say that The Beastie Boys are on par for me with The Beatles, Lennon, The Clash, Strummer but I dug them. I dug Adam’s commitment and efforts in Buddhist ways. He, and the other two, beat the odds, did it their way, had fun and kicked ass. How often does that happen? I own almost everything they put out and although there are plenty of needle-lifters for me, I listen, groove, smile and laugh frequently.

    Adam Yauch died way too young and he is, I think, only the third rock death that has touched me as genuinely unfortunate and sad.

    Here’s to no-more of those!

  8. tonyola

    It’s always sad when someone with talent dies too young, but frankly the Beastie Boys never resonated with me. Perhaps it’s because I had already passed my 30th birthday when Licensed to Ill hit. I found them both clever and a little annoyingly juvenile. “Sabotage” was a terrific video, but it was better with the sound off.

  9. “Juvenile” is a gimme, but “clever” is exactly the word I wanted to describe these guys. I’ve heard Springsteen had a book or notebook full of words that rhyme (which explains “Blinded by the Light”), but when you hear “There’s more to me than you’ll ever know” hooked with “And I got more hits than Sadaharu Oh” you know someone’s memorized the Guiness Book of World Records.


  10. Put me down as somebody completely upset by this death. I thought Licensed was a one-off joke and as fun as it was to play while drinking beers in my dorm, I assumed I would never own another Beastie album again.

    I did not buy Paul’s Boutique when it came out, despite having many hip-hop heads tell me that it was a must-have. I could not imagine a serious album from THOSE guys.

    I was stunned when I bought it on cassette, and proceeded to wear it out. Got into the two ‘singles’ first, then the whole of side two, and then it was all over for me. It is truly one of my five desert island albums.

    Lots of other stuff after that was good, some was great, and a chunk didn’t do much for me, but watching those guys grow up and live their lives in parallel to mine was pretty amazing. Yauch certainly showed the most visible growth, too.

    And now, this. So sad…

    – Glenn

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