10 years ago: Beastie Boys' Adam 'MCA' Yauch dies

Yauch died in 2012 after a 3-year battle with cancer
Posted at 12:08 PM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 12:08:29-04

10 years ago today, Beastie Boys' vocalist and bassist Adam Yauch, also known as "MCA", died at age 47 after a three-year battle with salivary cancer.

Yauch, along with his bandmates Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz and Michael "Mike D" Diamond, helped unite the worlds of rap and rock, first by using hard rock samples on their breakout rap album Licensed to Ill and later by picking up their own instruments and revisiting their punk rock and hardcore roots on stage.

One minute at a Beastie Boys concert you would see the 3 MC's weaving around the stage, performing one of their rap classics, and the next they'd be delivering scorching hardcore punk songs with Yauch on bass, Diamond on drums, and Horovitz on guitar.

Yauch directed a number of the Beastie Boys' music videos under the pen name Nathanial Hörnblowér.

Hörnblowér's most notable appearance was when he stormed the stage at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards as R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and producer June Guterman were about to accept the Best Direction award for the "Everybody Hurts" video.

Yauch, in his Hörnblowér outfit, wig, and fake moustache and beard, grabbed the mic and told the crowd, "I just want to tell everyone that this is a farce, that I had all the ideas for Star Wars and everything," before being escorted off stage while a surprised Stipe and Guterman looked on.

Off stage, Yauch was a practicing Buddhist, who became an important voice in the Tibetan independence movement.

He created the Milarepa Fund, a nonprofit organization focused on Tibetan independence.

Yauch organized several benefit concerts, including the Tibetan Freedom Concert, to support the cause.

The first time I saw Beastie Boys in concert I had no idea who they were. No one did. It was May 14, 1985 at The Omni in Atlanta, almost exactly a year and a half before the release of the album that put them on the map, Licensed to Ill.

The Beastie Boys were the opening act on Madonna's "Like A Virgin" tour and the crowd absolutely hated them.

They were booed incessantly. But just two years later Beastie Boys were touring the world and the boos had turned to cheers.

Yauch prohibited the use of his music, name and likeness in advertising purposes in his will.

He left the entirety of his $6.4 million estate to his wife Dechen and their daughter, Tenzin Losel.

Fans can get their fill of Diamond and Horovitz telling Yauch stories in the 2020 Spike Jonze documentary Beastie Boys Story on Apple TV+ and the 2018 #1 New York Times Bestseller Beastie Boys Book.