Adam Yauch, MCA of the Beastie Boys, Dies After Cancer Complications

One of the founding members of the heavily influential rap group died three years after his first cancer diagnosis

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Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys performs at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, Oct., 29, 2001.

Adam Yauch, part of the groundbreaking hip-hop trio the Beastie Boys, died Friday, May 4, after a lengthy struggle with cancer. He was 47.

He was diagnosed in 2009 after doctors found a tumor in his salivary gland, according to, which confirmed his death. The Beasties were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in April, but Yauch was unable to attend because of his illness. The band put out an album titled Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, last year, but its release had been delayed by Yauch’s medical treatments. Yauch was also unable to appear in videos for the album, the website said.

Yauch’s death was first reported by music impresario Russell Simmons’

(PHOTOS: Adam Yauch’s Life and Career)

Yauch — commonly known by his rap moniker MCA — co-founded the group with Mike “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz in 1979. He had taught himself to play bass guitar while attending Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn.

At that point, the Beasties were a punk band, during an era in New York when hip-hop was still a burgeoning art form. But before long, they began experimenting with rap, eventually developing their own unique sound: a mix of raw, funky street free flow and hard-hitting rock-inspired guitar rifts, backed by thunderous bass. The result was their successful 1986 debut Licensed to Ill, with the breakout hits “Brass Monkey” and “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party).” The album earned them a place of respect among other early hip-hop acts including Run-DMC and LL Cool J, with whom they toured.

(MORE: The Beastie Boys, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two — The Top 10 Everything of 2011)

Subsequent releases included Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head, Ill Communication and Hello Nasty. In all, the Beastie Boys released nine albums, selling more than 20 million copies, according to Billboard.

Yauch later became a major supporter of efforts to free Tibet from mainland-Chinese rule and was behind several concerts to raise money for and awareness of the issue. “What we’re really trying to do is create more of a forum for the Tibetans themselves to be able to speak,” he told PBS’s Frontline.

Simmons, on whose Def Jam label the Beastie Boys recorded early in their career, said on his Twitter account, “Adam was incredibly sweet and (the) most sensitive artist who I loved dearly and was always inspired by his work. He will be missed by all of us.”

Yauch is survived by his wife Dechen and daughter Tenzin Losel.

(MORE: Pass the Hot Sauce! After Seven Years and a Big Health Scare, the Beastie Boys Are Back)

(PHOTOS: 25 Years of Def Jam Records)