The year was 1987, and I was sitting in the cafeteria of a hospital in Princeton having a snack while waiting for my mother to come down and tell me if there had been any update with the family member I had been visiting. Hospitals seemed to be a dark and gloomy place for me and I had a companion with me that brought me a bit of cheer in the form of a Walkman and a copy of the 1986 album Licensed to Ill on cassette. I loved looking at the cover of the tape and thinking about the circumstances that would cause a plane to crumple like that. I must have listened to that album half a dozen times when I was sitting in that hospital. Now I am sad to have learned that one of the founding members of The Beastie Boys, Adam Yauch (known as MCA), passed away on Friday at the age of 47, possibly related to the cancer he was treating since 2009.
One of the greatest things about Yauch was that in addition to being a fantastic musician, he was a splendid humanitarian as well. After meeting the Dalai Lama he decided to dedicate himself to Buddhism and the cause of liberating Tibet from China, a cause which he helped through performing concerts and general promotion. In the wake of female concert goers being abused physically at the Woodstock reunion concert in 1999, Yauch and the Beastie Boys took to the stage at the MTV movie awards and asked that artists speak to promoters about the safety of their female fans.
MCA and The Beastie Boys put out quite a catalog of exciting music that is just as lively now as it was when it first came out — from Licensed to Ill all the way through their latest album Hot Sauce Committee. Their experimentation when putting together albums (an album of jazz instrumentals is notable for a group that chiefly records hip hop) led to some of the finest music recorded, in my somewhat humble opinion:
Relatively speaking, 47 is an unspeakably young age to pass away and there is no telling what tremendous music could have sprung from the deep musical genius that was Adam Yauch in the years to come. Even more so, we can only imagine how much more good he could have done for the sake of people. Let us remember not only the music that MCA brought into our lives with the Beastie Boys but the good influence he had on his fans to get out there and see what kinds of positive change they could effect on the world. He shall certainly be missed.