Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys.
DHARAMSHALA, May5: Adam Yauch, one-third of the pioneering hip-hop group the Beastie Boys and a staunch supporter of the free Tibet movement, has died at the age of 47.
The musician, director and Tibet activist was diagnosed with salivary gland cancer in 2009 and passed away in his native New York city yesterday.
Also known as MCA, Yauch formed part of the band that eventually became the Beastie Boys, selling 40 million albums worldwide with Mike D and Ad Roc.
"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," reads an official statement from the Beastie Boys. "
The band started off in 1979 and broke huge with their first proper album, Licensed to Ill, in 1986. The album was the biggest-selling rap album of the decade and the first to reach Number One on the Billboard chart.
Yauch was also heavily involved in the free Tibet movement and co-founded the Milarepa Fund.
Yauch was instrumental in organising the first Tibetan Freedom Concert in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park 1996, which drew 100,000 people – the largest U.S. benefit concert since 1985's Live Aid.
The Milerepa Fund continued the Tibetan Freedom Concert series with hugely successful events in New York City, Washington DC, Tokyo, Sydney, Amsterdam, and Taipei while enlisting the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Alanis Morissette and Buddy Guy.
“What we're really trying to do is create more of a forum for the Tibetans themselves to be able to speak,” Yauch said in a Frontline interview. “I guess the idea is -- creating some kind of forum where the -- the Tibetans themselves can speak and Tibetan culture can be there itself.”
A practicing Buddhist, Yauch is survived by his wife, Dechen Wangdu, and their daughter, Tenzin Losel, as well as his parents Frances and Noel Yauch.