NEW YORK – Adam Yauch, the gravelly voiced rapper who helped make the Beastie Boys one of the seminal groups in hip-hop, died Friday. He was 47.
Yauch, also known as MCA, died in New York after a nearly three-year battle with cancer, his representatives said. He had been diagnosed with a cancerous salivary gland in 2009.
At the time, Yauch expressed hope that it was “very treatable,” but his illness forced the group to cancel shows and delayed the release of their 2011 album, “Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2.”
He hadn’t performed in public since 2009 and was absent when the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last month.
Yauch was an integral, founding member of the ever-weaving trio: three Jewish kids from New York who found widespread respect in a hip-hop world with few credible white performers.
In a 25-year span that covered four No. 1 albums and more than 40 million records sold, the Beastie Boys played both prankster and pioneer, a groundbreaking act that helped bring hip-hop to the mainstream.
The Brooklyn-born Yauch formed the Beastie Boys with high school friend Michael “Mike D” Diamond.
The group became a hip-hop trio soon after Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz joined and coalesced after Yauch dropped out of Bard College two years into his studies.
Yauch is survived by his wife, Dechen Wangdu, and his daughter, Tenzin Losel Yauch.