Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch Dies at Age 47

6:07 PM, May 4, 2012   |    comments
Adam Yauch; Photo Courtesy Evan Agostini, AP
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By Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY

The music world is mourning again. This time, it's because Adam Yauch, known as Beastie Boys rapper MCA, has died., music mogul Russell Simmon's website, reports that Yauch died after a long battle with cancer. He was 47.

"We at Silva Artist Management are deeply saddened to confirm the passing of our friend and client, Adam Yauch," his managers say in a statement. "We ask for your patience and understanding as well as respect for the privacy of Adam's family."

PhotosBeastie Boys last concert, 2009 Bonnaroo

Yauch announced he was being treated for a cancerous tumor in his salivary gland. He has undergone surgery and radiation therapy, and has not performed live since then. Yauch is survived by his wife, Dechen Wengdu, and their daughter, Losel.

Yauch was born an only child in Brooklyn, New York. While attending Edward R. Murrow High School, he taught himself to play the bass guitar, and formed the initial incarnation of the Beastie Boys with Michael Diamond (a.k.a. Mike D. ). They played their first show on Yauch's 17th birthday. Yauch attended Bard College for two years before dropping out to focus on music.

Photos: Beastie Boys

The group originally featured friends John Berry and Kate Schellenbach. After Berry departed the band, he and was replaced by Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock). The group began building their reputation with a song called Cookie Puss, based around a recorded prank phone call to Carvel. The song became a sensation in New York's underground dance scene.

Two years later, at the age of 22, the Beastie Boys, now performing as a hip hop trio, released their first album Licensed to Ill on Simmons' Def Jam Records. By 2010, the Beastie Boys had sold 40 million records worldwide. The group has won multiple Grammys and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. Yauch, a practicing Buddhist, didn't attend because of illness, but his bandmates read a letter from him.

"I'd like to dedicate this to my brothers Adam and Mike," he wrote. "They walked the globe with me. It's also for anyone who has ever been touched by our band. This induction is as much ours as it is yours."

On Twitter, fans were remembering Yauch and the music.

Wrote Marlon Wayans: "Rest in peace Adam Yauch. Beastie Boys were always the "coolest whiteboys" when I was growing up. They erased color lines the opposite way"

Director Kevin Smith: "RIP Adam Yauch. You made my teenage years more fun and your art made it easier for me to do what I do. For a Beastie, you sure were a beaut."

Justin Timberlake: "Crushed to hear the news of Adam Yauch's passing. A true pioneer of art. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones."

RainnWilson: "He was a super-genius, a visionary and, most importantly, a really good person."

And actress Milla Jovovich said, "We lost one of our greatest talents today. my prayers and thoughts go out to the family and friends of Adam Yauch. Beastie Boys for life."

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