Beastie Boys rapper Adam Yauch dies aged 47

 

Musicians including Moby and Justin Timberlake have paid tribute to the groundbreaking hip hop artist Adam Yauch, co-founder of the influential rappers the Beastie Boys, whose death at the age of 47 was announced yesterday.

Yauch was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 after a tumour was found in his salivary gland, although it was not clear if this had caused his death.

Yauch, aka MGA, founded the Beastie Boys in 1979 with Mike "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horowitz. The trio went on to sell more than 40 million albums.

Although they were best known for the 1980s hits "Fight For Your Right (To Party)" and "No Sleep Till Brooklyn", from their landmark debut album Licensed to Ill, they earned lasting respect for their genre-defying follow-up "Paul's Boutique" and the 1996, jazz-infused "The In Sound from Way Out!".

Lambasted in the 1980s for their outrageous behaviour – they started the trend of stealing VW emblems from cars and vans – the Beastie Boys are now regarded among the all-time great music acts. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April, although Yauch sat out the presentation.

Yesterday Twitter tributes were paid by musicians of all stripes. Moby described him as a "wonderful, generous, remarkable, and inspiring man and friend" while Justin Timberlake said he was "crushed" by the news.

Yauch was also a film-maker and was heavily involved in the Free Tibet movement. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York, initially attending a Quaker school. But he left at 14 to join a public high school where his new friends introduced him to his future bandmates. He taught himself the bass guitar after discovering The Clash and punk rock.

He is survived by his wife, Dechen Wangdu – a Tibet campaigner – and their daughter, Tenzin Losel, as well as his parents, Frances and Noel Yauch.

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