Adam Yauch wasn’t well enough to be with his fellow Beastie Boys for their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction on April 14. But he surely wasn’t forgotten. “We could not have ever possibly done all of this stuff [without him],” Michael “Mike D” Diamond said, adding how as teens they’d hang at Yauch’s Brooklyn home and make a “god-awful racket.”
Things are, sadly, quieter now. On May 4 Yauch (a.k.a. MCA), 47, lost his nearly three-year battle with cancer of the salivary gland. As the news spread, fellow artists paid tribute to the Grammy winner, whose music-including the group’s debut License to Ill and its instant classic “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)”-helped break down racial barriers in the hip-hop world. “That white guy, MCA, did stuff that rappers today will never do,” says rapper pal DMC.
In later years Yauch’s life contrasted with his group’s hard-partying image-that bluster, he’d said, was “a joke that just went too far.” After turning to Buddhism, he cofounded the Milarepa Fund and raised awareness of Tibetan issues. He also ran the film company Oscilloscope Laboratories and was devoted to his wife, Dechen, 38, and daughter Tenzin Losel, 13. After Yauch’s death, Diamond praised his pal’s faith, humor and humility: “The world is in need of many more like him.”