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The Beastie Boys grew from their jokey punk origins to become trailblazers in hip-hop. Michael (Mike D) Diamond, Adam (MCA) Yauch and Adam (Ad-Rock) Horovitz began performing in New York in 1980; originally they were a hardcore punk band (with the three founders respectively on drums, bass and guitar) with Kate Schellenbach, later of Luscious Jackson, on drums. 1982's proudly amateurish Polly Wog Stew EP at least built a cult following as did the follow-up single, "Cookie Puss," which was based on a prank call to an ice-cream stand. Few at the time expected that the Beasties' debut album would sell 50 million copies. But by the time of Licensed to Ill in 1986 the group had turned to rap, dropped Schellenbach and the live instruments, and teamed up with star producer Rick Rubin. What hadn't changed (yet) was the group's bratty humor, as the self-explanatory single "(You've Got to) Fight For Your Right (to Party)" ruled frathouse playlists for years to come. The accompanying tour included cage dancers and an inflatable penis prop. As the follow-up album dragged on for three years, the Beasties seemed destined to be a one-hit wonder, but Paul's Boutique sported a very different sound. Working with new...

The Beastie Boys grew from their jokey punk origins to become trailblazers in hip-hop. Michael (Mike D) Diamond, Adam (MCA) Yauch and Adam (Ad-Rock) Horovitz began performing in New York in 1980; originally they were a hardcore punk band (with the three founders respectively on drums, bass and guitar) with Kate Schellenbach, later of Luscious Jackson, on drums. 1982's proudly amateurish Polly Wog Stew EP at least built a cult following as did the follow-up single, "Cookie Puss," which was based on a prank call to an ice-cream stand. Few at the time expected that the Beasties' debut album would sell 50 million copies. But by the time of Licensed to Ill in 1986 the group had turned to rap, dropped Schellenbach and the live instruments, and teamed up with star producer Rick Rubin. What hadn't changed (yet) was the group's bratty humor, as the self-explanatory single "(You've Got to) Fight For Your Right (to Party)" ruled frathouse playlists for years to come. The accompanying tour included cage dancers and an inflatable penis prop. As the follow-up album dragged on for three years, the Beasties seemed destined to be a one-hit wonder, but Paul's Boutique sported a very different sound. Working with new production team the Dust Brothers, the Beasties wove hundreds of samples into an ever-changing soundscape, while the lyrics were hedonistic as ever. A sales disappointment at first, the album was ultimately highly influential; even the Rolling Stones wound up working with the Dust Brothers. With their third album Check Your Head the Beasties put live instruments back into the mix and drew from classic funk and soul, while the lyrics became more socially and spiritually conscious; yet the audience continued to expand as the group kept growing up. The group became more politically active, with Yaunch organizing the annual Tibetan Freedom Concerts and the group headlining a New Yorkers Against Violence concert after the 9/11 attacks. They continued to experiment on disc, making an all-instrumental album The Mix-Up and a back-to-punk EP, Aglio e Olio. In July 2009, while the group was recording the album Hot Sauce Committee, Yaunch announced online that he was fighting cancer in his parotid gland and a lymph node. While his fight was initially successful, the cancer returned and Yauch had to miss their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in April 2012. He died a month later and the remaining members resolved to never perform as the Beastie Boys without him.

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