As you’re probably aware, Adam Yauch, aka MCA of the Beastie Boys has died aged 47. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and succumbed to the disease yesterday. It’s nothing to do with running, but I just wanted to briefly write something about him because the Beasties have been a big part of my musical life for a long time.
Like most people this side of the Atlantic, my first exposure to the Beastie Boys came with the release of ‘(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)’ in 1987. One set of brackets in a song title is pushing it. Two is just taking the piss. Which I suspect they were. I was twelve when it came out, and was already listening to Run DMC, LL Cool J and Public Enemy. That single, plus the follow up ‘No Sleep Till Brooklyn’ and the B-side, ‘Posse In Effect’ were played to death that summer, presumably to the great annoyance of my parents. (Although to their immense credit, they never once complained. At least not until I started listening to N.W.A.)
It’s well documented that the foul-mouthed, frat-boy image wasn’t representative of the Boys themselves, but it seemed real enough to me at the time. Their influence on boys of a certain age was enough to cause a spate of VW badge theft among the pupils of my grammar school in leafy Warwickshire. I wasn’t brave enough to participate, although I did briefly consider vandalising my own Golf this morning in homage.
Despite losing track with them for a few years (due mainly to an all-consuming and still active obsession with Depeche Mode), I caught up with them again when they released ‘Ill Communication’ in 1994 and got up to speed with what I’d missed – two brilliant albums as it turned out.
From that point on they have been a ‘top five’ band for me. (The others being, if you’re interested: Depeche Mode, Nitzer Ebb, The Prodigy and Public Enemy.) It seems like barely a week goes by without us hearing about the death of someone in the public eye. We become inured to it, but every now and then it strikes a chord. 47 is far too young to die, but I’m grateful for what he did in his career, and for the good times I associate with his music. When you get right down to it, there really isn’t anything more important in life than good health; your own, your family’s, your friends’. So I’m raising a glass to Adam Yauch tonight, feeling rather lucky to have such a great life and getting up early in the morning to go for as long a run as my right foot will allow.