It is with great sadness that we confirm that musician, rapper, activist and director Adam “MCA” Yauch, founding member of Beastie Boys and also of the Milarepa Foundation that produced the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits, and film production and distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories, passed away in his native New York City this morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer. He was 47 years old.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Yauch taught himself to play bass in high school, forming a band for his 17th birthday party that would later become known the world over as Beastie Boys.
With fellow members Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Adrock” Horovitz, Beastie Boys would go on to sell over 40 million records, release four #1 albums—including the first hip hop album ever to top the Billboard 200, the band’s 1986 debut full length, Licensed To Ill—win three Grammys, and the MTV Video Vanguard Lifetime Achievement award. Last month Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, with Diamond and Horovitz reading an acceptance speech on behalf of Yauch, who was unable to attend.
In addition to his hand in creating such historic Beastie Boys albums as Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head, Ill Communication, Hello Nasty and more, Yauch was a founder of the Milarepa Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness and activism regarding the injustices perpetrated on native Tibetans by Chinese occupational government and military forces. In 1996, Milarepa produced the first Tibetan Freedom Concert in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, which was attended by 100,000 people, making it the biggest benefit concert on U.S. soil since 1985’s Live Aid. The Tibetan Freedom Concert series would continue to stage some of the most significant benefit shows in the world for nearly a decade following in New York City, Washington DC, Tokyo, Sydney, Amsterdam, Taipei and other cities.
In the wake of September 11, 2001, Milarepa organized New Yorkers Against Violence, a benefit headlined by Beastie Boys at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, with net proceeds disbursed to the New York Women’s Foundation Disaster Relief Fund and the New York Association for New Americans (NYANA) September 11th Fund for New Americans—each chosen for their efforts on behalf of 9/11 victims least likely to receive help from other sources.
Under the alias of Nathanial Hörnblowér, Yauch directed iconic Beastie Boys videos including “So Whatcha Want,” “Intergalactic,” “Body Movin” and “Ch-Check It Out.” Under his own name, Yauch directed last year’s Fight For Your Right Revisited, an extended video for “Make Some Noise” from Beastie Boys’ Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, starring Elijah Wood, Danny McBride and Seth Rogen as the 1986 Beastie Boys, making their way through a half hour of cameo-studded misadventures before squaring off against Jack Black, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as Beastie Boys of the future.
Yauch’s passion and talent for filmmaking led to his founding of Oscilloscope Laboratories, which in 2008 released his directorial film debut, the basketball documentary Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot and has since become a major force in independent video distribution, amassing a catalogue of such acclaimed titles as Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy, Oren Moverman’s The Messenger, Banksy’s Exit Through The Gift Shop, Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze’s Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait Of Maurice Sendak, and many more.
Yauch is survived by his wife Dechen and his daughter Tenzin Losel, as well as his parents Frances and Noel Yauch.
RIP Adam Yauch- the world was blessed to have your flair and style MCA- as a kid beasties were my intro to hip hop- our prayers for your fam
— EVE TO ADAM (@EVETOADAMMUSIC) May 4, 2012
RIP Adam from Beastie Boys. Lord take his soul
— Brian Welch (@brianheadwelch) May 4, 2012
This is so sad. Rest In Peace Adam… 🙁 fb.me/13fTi3NLd
— Nonpoint (@nonpoint) May 4, 2012
Rest in Peace to a hip hop pioneer – Adam Yauch aka MCA of Beastie Boys.
— ☠ Papa Roach ☠ (@paparoach) May 4, 2012
RIP Adam Yauch AKA MCA, I will be blasting Beastie Boys tunes for the evening in memory!
— Max Helyer (@Maxmeatsix) May 4, 2012
Awful. R I P Adam Yauch (MCA). End of an era. Gonna listen to a lot of paul’s boutique and check yo head today. Sad sad sad…_b
— Silversun Pickups (@SSPU) May 4, 2012
Dammit great musicians!Stop dying!RIP MCA
— Trampled by Turtles (@tbtduluth) May 4, 2012
RIP Adam Yauch aka MCA. Sad news xxx
— YOUR DEMISE (@YourDemise) May 4, 2012
deepest condolences 2 the family of Adam yauch & the beastie boys. Adam was the coolest dude ever& will b missed but memory will live on
— Cypress Hill (@Cypress_Hill) May 4, 2012
Our condolences go out to MCA of the Beastie Boys!#RIP
— Pennywise (@Pennywise) May 4, 2012
Bummer about MCA. He was a true pioneer.
— Anthony Raneri (@AnthonyRaneri) May 4, 2012
Cant believe the news… RIP Adam Yauch.
— Cancer Bats (@cancerbats) May 4, 2012
Adam Yaunch died? That’s depressing. The Beastie Boys won’t be the same RIP.
— BRVNDXNPVSQVXL (@BRANDON_PASQUAL) May 4, 2012
Rest In Peace Adam Yauch /MCA. 4ever somebody i looked up to & had the pleasure of meeting. Damn this bums me out, we lost one of the best
— Travis Barker (@travisbarker) May 4, 2012
— The Swellers (@TheSwellers) May 4, 2012
RIP Adam Yauch. He was an incredible inspiration
— Maps & Atlases (@mapsnatlases) May 4, 2012
RIP ADAM MCA YAUCH
— Hayley from Paramore (@yelyahwilliams) May 4, 2012
RIP MCA of the Beastie Boys. My favorite show ever was seeing them at a small club in Boston on Check Your Head… fb.me/1X2xze14U
— Shadows Fall (@ShadowsFallBand) May 4, 2012
RIP to one of the greats. MCA, Adam Yauchof the Beastie Boys. Through music u can live forever.
— MxPx (@mxpx) May 4, 2012
RIP MCA. Cancer, you’re an asshole.
— Anthrax (Band) (@Anthrax) May 4, 2012
The world lost a great one today. Rest in peace Adam Yauch
— Close Your Eyes (@CYEband) May 4, 2012
RIP Adam Yauch from the Beastie Boys! You leave behgind a catalogue of great music!
— Kyng (@Kyngband) May 4, 2012
We’re sad to learn about the death of MCA. Our condolences to the Beastie Boys and Adam’s family.
— Linkin Park (@linkinpark) May 4, 2012
Rest In Power MCA.
— This Is Hell (@THISISHELL) May 4, 2012
rip MCA you are a legend
— Man Overboard (@ManOverboardNJ) May 4, 2012
RIP Adam Yauch.MCA will live forever in your songs.
— Gallows Official (@gallowsofficial) May 4, 2012
— The Sounds (@thesounds) May 4, 2012