Updated 05/04/2012 11:55 PM
Beastie Boys Founding Member Adam Yauch Dead At 47
New York native and Beastie Boys founding member Adam Yauch died Friday at the age of 47. NY1's Elizabeth Kaledin filed the following report.
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Adam Yauch, better known to millions as "MCA", formed the Beastie Boys in 1981 while still in high school.
The group started as a hardcore punk band, but Yauch and fellow New Yorkers Mike Diamond and Adam Horowitz soon embraced the city's emerging hip-hop scene.
Their debut album "Licensed To Ill", with hits "Fight For Your Right (To Party)" and "No Sleep Till Brooklyn", was an overnight sensation, and became the first rap album to ever top the Billboard charts. It was the first of many successes for three white Jewish kids who had became pioneers in the world of hip-hop.
"The interesting thing is that people very rarely brought up the fact that like, 'Hey, what are these white guys doing here?' Simply because they were so good and so committed to the culture of hip-hop. And they always paid respect to people like Afrika Bambatta and to Biz Markee and all these guys who had laid the groundwork that they then used to sort of catapult themselves to stardom," said Entertainment Weekly Staff Writer Kyle Anderson.
The Beastie Boys' sound evolved radically from their early days, combining samples and live instrumentation on albums like "Paul's Boutique" and "Check Your Head" that earned raves from critics who had previously labeled them a novelty act. They sold over 40 million records and just last month, the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
"They had serious songs, they had a sense of humor, they had loud stuff, they had quiet stuff, they had stuff that was meaningful, they had stuff that was political. They did it all, and they did it all exquisitely well," Anderson said.
Adam Yauch was also an accomplished filmmaker who directed many of the Beastie Boys' best known videos, and was the founder of Oscilloscope Laboratories, a video production company. He was also a political activist who created the Milarepa Foundation, which is devoted to Tibetan independence.
Yauch was diagnosed with a cancerous parotid gland in 2009 and had undergone surgery and radiation.
He is survived by his wife and daughter.