I flicked the channel to MTV. The Beastie Boys were playing. A tribute to Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch it said in the top corner of the screen. This seemed odd because they don’t usually do tributes for artists that are alive. But I thought, well he deserves it because he’s a visionary genius. Then my brain started to tell me something I never wanted to hear. He’s dead. MCA is dead. Why else would there be a tribute programme?
A few seconds later my fears had been confirmed. Adam Yauch, founder member of the Beastie Boys, film-maker, producer, activist and tireless campaigner, had died of throat cancer at the age of 47.
I was devastated by this news. I haven’t been this affected by the death of someone I didn’t know personally since John Peel died.
The Beastie Boys have been a vital part of my life since I was 11 years old. Their music helped me make it through my teenage years and my twenties. I grew up with these guys as they grew up themselves. I identified with their changing attitudes and became interested in the issues they were increasingly spotlighting.
Adam Yauch always seemed like the most politically aware member of the group. His work in raising awareness of the unjust treatment of native Tibetans by the region's Chinese occupiers, including co-founding the Milarepa Fund, is testament to this. I am sure his work will be carried on by others whom he has inspired.
He was a great musician, the best rapper in the group, a talented director, a genuinely funny man. He was also, as far as I could tell, a really nice guy. I don’t know for sure but it certainly seemed that way.
What I do know is that out of all the comments, and articles, and blogs, and tweets that have poured forth since Friday, not one person will have a bad word to say about Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch. And that speaks volumes.