Son of a bitch, I wasn’t ready for this one. Adam Yauch has been battling cancer for several years, but the party line has always sounded so positive. We should’ve known when he didn’t appear with his fellow Beasties at their recent Hall Of Fame induction that it was more serious than the official statements made it sound.
The Beastie Boys first hit my radar when my record store received a couple of copies of the “Cookie Puss” twelve-inch. It was funny enough to catch my interest, which led to me picking up the Polly Wog Stew EP. Very cool — these guys were funny and punk.
Next they opened for Madonna on her Like A Virgin tour, and that really whacked me out. What the hell? Madonna?
A couple more years passed, License To Ill was released, and the Beastie Boys blew up. I didn’t like that album — too slick, too contrived. It had its moments, but overall it just didn’t grab me. Coming on the heels of touring with Madonna I wrote the Beasties off.
And then the magnificent Paul’s Boutique came out, the beginning of a no-hitter that continued all the way through their last album, Hot Sauce Committee Part 2. The obnoxious kids from “Cookie Puss” turned out to be some of the most interesting, open-minded, experimental musicians of my generation. They maintained their sense of humor, too, and made some of the greatest videos during an era when music videos mattered: “Hey Ladies,” “Gratitude,” “Intergalactic,” and “Shadrach” all belong in an art museum.
What Yauch brought to the party was a seriousness and maturity that made the whole thing work. Part of it was his gravelly voice, of course, but his interest in Buddhism and his efforts on behalf of the Tibetan people brought a purpose to the madness.
Great musician, humanitarian, hip hop pioneer, gravelly voice of my generation. I really don’t know what to say. What a tremendous loss for his friends, family, and music fans everywhere.