The Beastie Boys were originally a punk-rock outfit. The hip-hop threesome we know and love came into existence when MCA, Ad-rock and Mike D shifted gears — right around the time they teamed up with NYU student Rick Rubin (pictured here) who went on to produce their first LP, Licensed To Ill.
MCA and Mike D shoot Madonna with squirt guns on the final night of her 1985 Like A Virgin tour. Madge told SPIN, “The audience always booed them and they always told everyone to fuck off…I just loved them for that. I couldn’t understand why everyone hated them — I thought they were so adorable…. I think I made out with Adam Yauch once in their dressing room.”
Here are the Beastie Boys presenting at the 1987 Grammy Awards in true Beastie fashion (seriously, it’s worth a watch just for their hilarious synchronized entrance). It would be another five years before the trio earned a nom for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for Check Your Head — and another seven years after that before they could actually take home a golden gramophone for “Intergalatic” and Hello Nasty.
MCA, dressed as his directorial alter-ego Nathanial Hornblower, storms the stage at the 1994 MTV VMAs after the Beastie Boys’ “Sabatoge” lost out to REM’s “Everybody Hurts”. Kanye, THIS is how it’s done.
Beastie Boys perform at the Tibetan Freedom Concert in June of 1998. The concert series was launched by the hip-hop trio in conjunction with The Milarepa Fund, an organization co-founded by Yauch, in San Francisco in 1996 and ran for six years. Milarepa was founded following the release of Ill Communication. The Beasties’ had sampled two songs by Tibetan monks on the 1994 album and wanted to ensure that they were properly compensated and their royalties distributed.
The 1998 music video to “Intergalactic” was directed by none other than MCA, under his often used pseudonym Nathanial Hornblower, and paid homage to old Japanese sci-fi movies. The vid would go on to win Best Hip-Hop Video at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards.
MCA, Mike D and Ad-rock arrive at the 1998 MTV VMAs. The guys were honored by the television network with the Video Vanguard award. During their acceptance speech Adam Yauch used his time on the mic to speak out on his views on the Middle East:
“I think it was a real mistake that the US chose to fire missles into the middle east. I think that was a huge mistake. And I think it’s important that the united states start to look towards non-violent means of resolving conflicts…those bombings that took place in the middle east were thought of as a retaliation by the terrorists and if we thought of what we did as retaliation certainly we’re going to find more retaliation from the middle east from terroritst i should say because most middle eastern people are not terrorists and that’s another thing that america needs to think about is our racism. Our racism that comes from the United States towards Muslim people and towards Arabic people and that’s something that has to stop. And the United States has to start respecting people from the Middle East in order to find a solution to the problme that’s been building up for many years.”
This was three years before 9/11.
MCA directed and co-produced the 1996 concert documentary Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!. The film was comprised of footage from the Beastie’s 2004 show at Madison Square Garden, shot by 50 fans who were lent video cameras. The film later premiered at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.
The star-studded “Make Some Noise” music video would go on to earn the Beasties a MTV VMA nomination for Video Of The Year — and Adam would go on to release a 30-minute version of the vid in which he is portrayed by East Bound And Down star Danny McBride.
In April of 2012 the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Sadly, Adam Yauch was too ill to attend, so Mike D and Ad-rock read a letter expressing thanks for their absent member.