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Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch dead at 47

May 4, 2012 - Andy Gray
Rolling Stone and other media outlets are reporting that Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys has died at age 47.

Yauch announced in 2009 that he was being treated for cancer. Some reports had indicated the treatment was successful, but Yauch wasn’t in attendance last month in Cleveland when the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Kid Rock, Travie McCoy and The Roots performed in place of the Beastie Boys at the induction ceremony because 'Mike D' Diamond and Adam 'Ad-Rock' Horovitz did not want to perform without Yauch.

One of the Beastie Boys' final concerts together took place in Youngstown, where the group performed at the Covelli Centre as part of a “Get Out and Vote” tour before the 2008 Presidential election.

According to the website Songkick, the Beastie Boys only played 14 concerts after that date with its final show on Oct. 8, 2009, in Miami, Fla.

I interviewed Yauch in 2008 to preview the Youngstown appearance. Below is that interview:

By ANDY GRAY Tribune Chronicle

Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys says the Get Out and Vote '08 tour isn't necessarily a partisan event.

'Really, the focus of the tour is just to get people to get out and vote and have their voices heard,' Yauch said during a telephone interview. 'It isn't a political rally. We want people to come out and have a good time.

'The message stuff should be minimal enough. We won't hit them over the head. We're not inviting them to a rally. We're inviting them to a party.'

That doesn't mean the Beasties - or any of the other acts on the bill - aren't taking sides.

'Personally, I support Barack Obama and feel he is the right choice for health care and the economy and national defense,' Yauch said.

His disgust with the current administration and the Iraq War is what inspired the idea for the tour.

'It just seemed like a really critical election. After the damage done by George Bush being in office for eight years, we felt we wanted to do what we could to help, to get it on the good foot.'

The Beastie Boys - 'Mike D' Diamond, Adam 'Ad-Rock' Horovitz and 'MCA' Yauch - started calling artists they knew who might be interested in participating and had their management contact the performers they didn't know personally.

Because of the short advance notice (planning started a little over a month ago), some acts contacted had schedule conflicts, but Yauch said most of the people they asked who were available said yes. Joining the Boys in Youngstown will be Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones and Ben Harper. Jack Johnson, David Crosby & Graham Nash, Tenacious D and Santigold are playing other dates on the seven-city tour.

All of them seem to have the same opinion as Yauch about who is a better choice for President between Obama and John McCain.

Crow announced in April on her Web site, 'I am proud to support Barack Obama in his desire and mission to see America return to her greatness.' She was one of Obama's 'opening acts' when he gave his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and she has appeared on 'Larry King Live' in support of the candidate.

Ben Harper's 'Better Way' was used as one of Obama's theme songs early in the campaign and the singer has said he fully supports his candidacy. Jones was on the record as an Obama fan clear back in early 2007.

For the Beasties set, the group will be going old-school hip hop with turntables instead of live instruments, mainly because of the logistics of having several artists on the bill.

As for any collaborating on stage with the other acts, Yauch joked, 'Norah Jones said she really wanted to sing 'Sabotage.'

Maybe he wasn't joking. Jones reportedly makes a guest appearance on Q-Tip's upcoming disc, so she's not a stranger to hip hop. But it's safe to assume Yauch was kidding when he said the Beastie Boys' set would focus on 'the hits' and then listed several Billy Joel and Eagles songs as those hits.

In 2004 several performers teamed up on the Vote for Change Tour, which was organized by American Coming Together and designed to support Democrat John Kerry in the presidential campaign against Bush.

The tour didn't bring the desired result - as Bruce Springsteen said at first Cleveland show after the election, 'We voted; we didn't change' - and it inspired a backlash from those who believe that musicians (at least the ones who disagree with them) should, 'Shut up and sing.'

Yauch said he wasn't worried about a similar response to this tour.

'Whenever you do something of a political nature, you're bound to make some people happy and some people angry,' Yauch said. 'In this case, it seemed important enough that if people hate me for it, so be it.'


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