Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch -- aka MCA -- has died today at the age of 47, according to reports.
UPDATE 2:30 p.m. EST: A spokesman for the Beastie Boys has officially confirmed Yauch's passing. "It is with great sadness that we confirm that musician, rapper, activist and director Adam "MCA" Yauch, founding member of Beastie Boys and also of the Milarepa Foundation that produced the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits, and film production and distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories, passed away in his native New York City this morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer. He was 47 years old."
A complete obituary released by the company is below the video.
TMZ and Russell Simmons' Global Grind independently confirmed that the rapper passed away earlier today.
Yauch did not appear during the Beastie Boys' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last month, fueling speculation that his health was still imperiled. He was diagnosed with cancer, in and around his salivary gland, in 2009. He had undergone treatment and radiation.
Yauch was one-third of the Beasties, with Michael "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horowitz. Yauch co-founded the group in 1981. Simmons was the Beasties' first manager, who helped sign them initially to Def Jam.
The Beastie Boys' star-studded "Make Some Noise," released ahead of their 2011 album "Hot Sauce Committee Part 2," was the last music video that Yauch appeared in.
Yauch was also head of Oscilloscope Labortories, his recording studio and film production/distribution company, and had directed several of the Beasties' music videos (under the name Nathaniel Hornblower). He present and speaking at the Sundance Film Festival last year during the initial screening of his short "Fight for Your Right Revisited," which also featured "Make Some Noise."
He is survived by his wife Dechen and his daughter Tenzin Losel, as well as parents Frances and Noel Yauch.
Below is the video the Beastie Boys posted on July 20, 2009 announcing Yauch's illness.
Here is the Beastie Boys' representative company Nasty Little Man's complete statement and obituary release:
It is with great sadness that we confirm that musician, rapper, activist and director Adam “MCA” Yauch, founding member of Beastie Boys and also of the Milarepa Foundation that produced the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits, and film production and distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories, passed away in his native New York City this morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer. He was 47 years old.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Yauch taught himself to play bass in high school, forming a band for his 17th birthday party that would later become known the world over as Beastie Boys.
With fellow members Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Adrock” Horovitz, Beastie Boys would go on to sell over 40 million records, release four #1 albums–including the first hip hop album ever to top the Billboard 200, the band’s 1986 debut full length, Licensed To Ill–win three Grammys, and the MTV Video Vanguard Lifetime Achievement award. Last month Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, with Diamond and Horovitz reading an acceptance speech on behalf of Yauch, who was unable to attend.
In addition to his hand in creating such historic Beastie Boys albums as Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head, Ill Communication, Hello Nasty and more, Yauch was a founder of the Milarepa Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness and activism regarding the injustices perpetrated on native Tibetans by Chinese occupational government and military forces. In 1996, Milarepa produced the first Tibetan Freedom Concert in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, which was attended by 100,000 people, making it the biggest benefit concert on U.S. soil since 1985’s Live Aid. The Tibetan Freedom Concert series would continue to stage some of the most significant benefit shows in the world for nearly a decade following in New York City, Washington DC, Tokyo, Sydney, Amsterdam, Taipei and other cities.
In the wake of September 11, 2001, Milarepa organized New Yorkers Against Violence, a benefit headlined by Beastie Boys at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, with net proceeds disbursed to the New York Women’s Foundation Disaster Relief Fund and the New York Association for New Americans (NYANA) September 11th Fund for New Americans–each chosen for their efforts on behalf of 9/11 victims least likely to receive help from other sources.
Under the alias of Nathanial Hörnblowér, Yauch directed iconic Beastie Boys videos including ”So Whatcha Want,” ”Intergalactic,” “Body Movin” and “Ch-Check It Out.” Under his own name, Yauch directed last year’s Fight For Your Right Revisited, an extended video for “Make Some Noise” from Beastie Boys’ Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, starring Elijah Wood, Danny McBride and Seth Rogen as the 1986 Beastie Boys, making their way through a half hour of cameo-studded misadventures before squaring off against Jack Black, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as Beastie Boys of the future.
Yauch’s passion and talent for filmmaking led to his founding of Oscilloscope Laboratories, which in 2008 released his directorial film debut, the basketball documentary Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot and has since become a major force in independent video distribution, amassing a catalogue of such acclaimed titles as Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy, Oren Moverman’s The Messenger, Banksy’s Exit Through The Gift Shop, Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze’s Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait Of Maurice Sendak, and many more.
Yauch is survived by his wife Dechen and his daughter Tenzin Losel, as well as his parents Frances and Noel Yauch.