Well of course this week’s Tuesday Tunes-day was a no brainer for me. I had to write about the Beastie Boys with the oh so sad news about group member, Adam Yauch (aka MCA). It’s funny how you can get so emotional about someone that you have never met before, and feel so very sad even shedding tears about their passing away. That is how I have felt the past few days, and even writing this brings me to tears.
I grew up listening to the Beastie Boys. Songs from the album, Licensed to Ill were circulating on MTV and the radio all the time when I was in middle school and I would always hear the album Paul’s Boutique from my friend’s older brother. This was all in the late eighties, so I was like 11 or 12 years old. A very impressionable age, and while my memory doesn’t always serve me well, I sure do remember those days. Music has always been a big part of my life thanks to my dad, so I associate different music to different time periods of my life. I think a lot of people do that. My memories associated with this group are very positive. Joyous moments filled with lots of car dancing and hanging out with friends.
My real love for the Beastie Boys grew with the album, Check Your Head. I think I was around 15 years old and I was in high school. I was learning to drive and this CD was a staple in my car. I had a red Toyota Corolla and there were a bunch of stickers on it. I had 2 Beastie stickers on there, along with The Cure, The Smiths, and some others. The CD features some of their punk rock roots and they play all of their own instruments which, they hadn’t done a lot of prior to that. The album also introduces keyboardist and long time collaborator Money Mark. I have his third album, Change Is Coming and it’s a funky, jazzy, loungey instrumental album that is in the same family as some of the songs off of Check Your Head. I like him.
Ooooh, but then Ill Communication came along in 1994. What an album! I think “Get It Together” had to be everyone’s favorite song ever, and was played like a billion times over and over. I can only smile when thinking of that song. Although, “Root Down” is also amazing. The Root Down EP is awesome and the first track featuring the Free Zone Mix is my fav. I have continued to buy their music over the years and after pulling out some of my older CD’s, it was nice to look through the old booklets and album covers again. You don’t get to do that when you buy something off of iTunes. I forgot that I also had a Mixmaster Mike CD, Spin Psycle, so I gave that a listen today too.
The band Beastie Boys started as a punk group in 1981. It started with members Mike Diamond, Adam Yauch, Kate Schellenbach, and John Berry. They released a 7″ EP, Pollywog Stew on indie label Rat Cage which didn’t get a lot of attention. They soon met Adam Horovitz who had formed a hardcore group called the Young and The Useless. He was very young, like 14 years old and they were all involved in New York City’s punk underground scene when teenagers. By 1983 Kate and John left and Adam joined the Beastie Boys. Kate went on to become the drummer for the band Luscious Jackson. In 1983 the Beasties put out a single called “Cooky Puss”, which is based on a prank call the group made to Carvel Ice Cream and it was supposedly an underground hit in NY. By 1984 they abandoned punk and turned their attention towards rap. That same year they joined forces with Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons and signed to Def Jams in 1985. They had a hit single that year from the soundtrack to Krush Groove with “She’s On It”. It’s a rap track sampling AC/DC. They also had significant national exposure because of opening for Madonna on her Virgin tour. They later opened for Run D.M.C. Their album Licensed To Ill was one of Columbia Records’ fastest-selling debut albums to date.
In 1988 they left Def Jam and relocated to California, then signed with Capitol Records. They linked up the Dust Brothers and created Paul’s Boutique. They continued making albums, and co-headlined with Smashing Pumpkins at the 1994 Lollapalooza shows. (I saw them that year.) They had their own label called, Grand Royal and became a full fledged record label with the debut album Natural Ingredients by Luscious Jackson. They had also signed Ben Lee and Sean Lennon. They ended up selling their label in 2001 for financial reasons. They also had a magazine with the same name, Grand Royal and delivered six issues from 1993-1997.
MCA later became a Buddhist and organized the 2 day festival, The Tibetan Freedom Concert to help raise awareness (and has done so successfully). On April 14, 2012 the Beastie Boys were the third rap group to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after Run D.M.C. and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Unfortunately, MCA was too ill to attend the ceremony and he has since lost his battle with cancer of the lymph node. He died on May 4, 2012 at the age of 47.
Twenty six years since the beginning of their career, they are inspiring artists and leaving their marks in the lives of their listeners. I am going to try to find some of their video albums, because I have only seen one and they have five of them. I am inspired to celebrate their music and I hope that you are too after reading this post. In true MCA spirit….“If you can feel what I’m feeling then it’s a musical masterpiece/ If you can hear what I’m dealing with then that’s cool at least/ What’s running through my mind comes through in my walk/ True feelings are shown from the way that I talk”
Root Down (Free Zone Mix)
Tribute to Adam Yauch from Coldplay