By New York Natives Staff

Adam Nathaniel Yauch

Born: August 5, 1964, Brooklyn, New York, Died May 4, 2012

Occupation: Musician

Marital Status: Married to Dechen Wangdu (Widow)

Children: Tenzin Losel Yauch

Education: Bard College (Dropped Out)


“I want to say a little something that’s long overdue, the disrespect to women has got to be through. To all the mothers and the sisters and the wives and friends, I wanna offer my love and respect till the end.”

-Adam Yauch


Adam Yauch was an artist. Yauch – also known as MCA – combined punk rock and hip hop to make something new. Yauch, along with rest of the Beastie Boys, brought a new brand of hip-hop to legions of fans and influenced a new wave of artists.

Yauch was born in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Edward R. Murrow High School where he taught himself how to play the bass guitar. He started out as a teenager, playing hardcore punk with Mike D (Michael Diamond), Kate Schellenbach, and John Berry. However, the band would not stay that way, losing members Schellenbach and Berry, and bringing in Adam Horovitz, also known as Ad-Rock.

Yauch’s first big break came when he met Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons – the founders of Def Jam Records. Rubin even served as the band’s DJ for a time. In 1984, Def Jam released the Beastie Boys’ single, “Rock Hard.”

However their real breakthrough came with the release of the band’s first album, License to Ill. It featured the now classic anthem “Fight for Your Right (To Party),” which was a Top 10 hit. Licensed to Ill went on to sell more than 4 million copies. It’s music video was in heavy rotation when MTV actually showed music videos. You can see it here:

Fight for Your Right (To Party)

Yauch and the rest of the Beastie Boys would split from Def Jam in the 1980s. They continued their musical evolution with Paul’s Boutique, though it’s experimental sampling hindered its commercial success. They returned to the top of the charts with 1994’s Ill Communication, which contained such songs as “Sure Shot” and “Sabotage.” Strangely enough, the album would contain samplings from Tibetan Monks. This was because of Yauch’s interest in Buddhism and Tibetan culture. Yauch was very active in Tibetan Independence, going as far as to establish the Tibetan Freedom Concerts.

The Beastie Boys’ popularity continued with 1998’s Hello Nasty, an album that earned Yauch his first two Grammy Award wins. Their tribute to their hometown, To the 5 Boroughs, proved to be another big hit for the group. The album would feature “An Open Letter to NYC.” The lyrics describe the group’s well-known love for New York City. You can watch it here:

An Open Letter to NYC

Tragedy struck in July 2009, when Yauch announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer. Doctors had discovered a tumor on his salivary gland. He and his fellow Beasties canceled their summer tour so that he could focus on getting better. To treat the condition, Yauch had surgery and radiation treatment.

The Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2012. However, Yauch was unable to attend the ceremony. A few weeks later, Adam Yauch died on May 4 at the age of 47. He is remembered as a true innovator that was taken too soon.

Featured Image Courtesy of IndieWire

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