The Beastie Boys were an American hip hop group from New York City formed in 1981. The group was composed of Michael "Mike D" Diamond (vocals, drums), Adam "MCA" Yauch (vocals, bass) and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz (vocals, guitar, programming).
|Origin||New York City, U.S.|
The Beastie Boys were formed as a four-piece hardcore punk band, the Young Aborigines, in 1978 by Mike D (vocals), MCA (bass), John Berry (guitar) and Kate Schellenbach (drums). They appeared on the compilation cassette New York Thrash, contributing two songs from their first EP, Polly Wog Stew, in 1982. Berry left shortly thereafter and was replaced by Horovitz. After achieving local success with the 1983 experimental hip hop single "Cooky Puss", the Beastie Boys made a full transition to hip hop, and Schellenbach left the group soon after. They toured with Madonna in 1985 and a year later released their debut album Licensed to Ill. It was followed by Paul's Boutique, Check Your Head, Ill Communication, Hello Nasty, To the 5 Boroughs, The Mix-Up, and Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.
The Beastie Boys have sold 26 million records in the United States and 50 million records worldwide, making them the biggest-selling rap group since Billboard began recording sales in 1991. With seven platinum-selling albums from 1986 to 2004, the Beastie Boys were one of the longest-lived hip hop acts worldwide. In 2012, they became the third rap group to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In the same year, MCA died of cancer. In 2014, Mike D confirmed that the Beastie Boys had disbanded.
1979–1983: Formation and early years
Prior to forming the Beastie Boys, Michael Diamond was part of a number of bands such as the Walden Jazz Band, BAN, and The Young Aborigines. The Beastie Boys formed in July 1981 when the Young Aborigines bassist Jeremy Shatan left New York City for the summer and the remaining members Michael Diamond, John Berry and Kate Schellenbach formed a new hardcore punk band with Adam Yauch called Beastie Boys. In an interview on The Tonight Show in October 2018, Mike D stated that the Beastie name is an acronym. It stands for "Boys Entering Anarchistic States Towards Inner Excellence". The band supported Bad Brains, the Dead Kennedys, the Misfits and Reagan Youth at venues such as CBGB, A7, Trudy Hellers Place and Max's Kansas City, playing at the latter venue on its closing night. In November 1982, the Beastie Boys recorded the 7" EP Polly Wog Stew at 171A studios, an early recorded example of New York hardcore.
On November 13, 1982, the Beastie Boys played Philip Pucci's birthday for the purposes of his short concert film of the Beastie Boys, Beastie. Pucci held the concert in Bard College's Preston Drama Dance Department Theatre. This performance marked the Beastie Boys' first on screen appearance in a published motion picture. Pucci's concept for Beastie was to distribute a mixture of both a half dozen 16 mm Bell & Howell Filmo cameras, and 16 mm Bolex cameras to audience members and ask that they capture the Beastie Boys performance from the audience's own point of view while a master sync sound camera filmed from the balcony of the abandoned theater where the performance was held. The opening band for that performance was The Young and the Useless, which featured Adam Horovitz as the lead singer. A one-minute clip of Beastie was subsequently excerpted and licensed by the Beastie Boys for use in the "Egg Raid on Mojo" segment of the "Skills to Pay the Bills" long-form home video released by Capitol Records. "Skills to Pay the Bills" later went on to be certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Berry left the group in 1982 (later forming Thwig, Big Fat Love and Bourbon Deluxe) and was replaced by Horovitz, who had become close friends with the Beastie Boys; Schellenbach left the band in 1984 and was not replaced, with Diamond filling the role of drummer. As of that year, the Beastie Boys band made a full transition to hip hop, and was composed of three young Americans of Jewish descent: "Mike D", "MCA", and "Ad-Rock".
The band also recorded and then performed its first hip hop track, "Cooky Puss", based on a prank call by the group to a Carvel Ice Cream franchise in 1983. It was a part of the new lineup's first EP, also called Cooky Puss, which was the first piece of work that showed their incorporation of the underground rap phenomenon and the use of samples. It quickly became a hit in New York underground dance clubs and night clubs. "Beastie Revolution" was later sampled for a British Airways commercial. The Beastie Boys sued them over the use of the song, earning them $40,000 in royalties.
1984–1987: Def Jam years and Licensed to Ill
Following the success of "Cooky Puss", the Beastie Boys began to incorporate rap into their sets. They hired a DJ for their live shows, New York University student Rick Rubin, who began producing records soon thereafter. He formed Def Jam Recordings with fellow NYU student Russell Simmons, and approached the band about producing them for his new label.
They released the 12-inch single "Rock Hard" in 1984, the second record released by Def Jam crediting Rubin as producer (the first was "It's Yours" by T La Rock and Jazzy Jay). In 1985, the band opened for John Lydon's post-Sex Pistols band Public Image Ltd., as well as supporting Madonna on her North American The Virgin Tour. Then headlining with Fishbone and Murphy's Law with DJ Hurricane and later in the year, the group was on the Raising Hell tour with Run-DMC, Whodini, LL Cool J, and the Timex Social Club. With their exposure on this tour, the track "Hold It Now, Hit It" charted on Billboard's US R&B and dance charts. The track "She's on It" from the Krush Groove soundtrack continued in a rap/metal vein while a double A-side 12", "Paul Revere/The New Style", was released at the end of the year.
The band recorded Licensed to Ill in 1986 and released it on November 15, 1986. The album was favorably reviewed by Rolling Stone magazine with the now-famous headline, "Three Idiots Create a Masterpiece". Licensed to Ill became the best-selling rap album of the 1980s and the first rap album to go number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, where it stayed for five weeks. It also reached number 2 on the Top R&B album charts. It was Def Jam's fastest selling debut record to date and sold over nine million copies. The fourth single from the album, "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)", reached number 7 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Although the group has sold over 26 million records in the US, this is their only single to peak in the US top ten or top twenty. The accompanying music video (directed by Ric Menello and Adam Dubin) became an MTV staple. Another song from the album, "No Sleep till Brooklyn", peaked at number 14 on the UK Singles Chart.
The band took the Licensed to Ill tour around the world the following year. It was a tour clouded in controversy featuring female members of the crowd dancing in cages and a 20-foot tall motorized hydraulic penis similar to one used by The Rolling Stones in the 1970s. The tour was troubled by lawsuits and arrests, with the band accused of provoking the crowd. This culminated in their notorious gig at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, England, on May 30, 1987, that erupted into a riot approximately 10 minutes after the Beasties hit the stage and the arrest of Adam Horovitz by Merseyside Police. He was charged with assault causing grievous bodily harm.
1988–1989: Move to Capitol Records and Paul's Boutique
After the success of Licensed to Ill, the Beastie Boys parted ways with Def Jam and signed with Capitol Records. Tougher Than Leather, a movie made by Rick Rubin as a star vehicle for Run-D.M.C. and Def Jam Recordings, with appearances by the Beastie Boys when they were still with the label, was released in 1988.
The group re-entered the studio in 1988, emerging with a more artistically mature second album, Paul's Boutique, released on July 25, 1989 by Capitol Records and peaking at number 14 on the US Album Charts. However, the album was viewed as a disappointment as it failed to match its predecessor (Licensed to Ill was certified at 4 million copies during its run, with current sales at 10 million; Paul's Boutique was certified gold, sales of 500,00 during its run, with current sales at 2 million). The album peaked at number 24 on the US Billboard R&B charts. Of the album's two singles, one of them, "Hey Ladies", reached the Top 40, peaking at number 36 on the US Hot 100. Rolling Stone would describe the album as "the Pet Sounds/The Dark Side of the Moon of hip hop." Produced by the Dust Brothers and Matt Dike, Paul's Boutique is an extremely sample-laden opus and is considered one of the strongest works by the Beastie Boys. Rolling Stone ranked it number 156 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It is also considered a landmark in hip hop recordings due to its large array of samples and intricate use of multi-layering. Paul's Boutique has current sales of two million copies, despite the initially slow commercial reception. The album received its name from a Manhattan thrift store. The album was remastered and re-released in 2009.
1990–1996: Check Your Head and Ill Communication
The follow-up album, Check Your Head, was recorded in the band's own "G-Son" studio in Atwater Village, California, and released on its Grand Royal record label. The band was influenced to play instruments on this album by Dutch group Urban Dance Squad; with Mike D on drums, Yauch on bass, Horovitz on guitar and Mark Ramos Nishita ("Keyboard Money Mark") on keyboards. Mario Caldato, Jr., who had helped in the production of Paul's Boutique, engineered the record and became a longtime collaborator. Check Your Head was released in 1992 and was certified double Platinum in the US and peaked at number 10 on the Billboard 200. The single "So What'cha Want" reached number 93 on the Billboard 100 and charted on both the Rap and Modern Rock Chart, while the album's first single, "Pass the Mic", peaked at number 38 on the Hot Dance Music chart. The album also introduced a more experimental direction, with funk and jazz inspired songs including "Lighten Up" and "Something's Got to Give". The band returned to their hardcore punk roots for the song "Time for Livin'", a cover song originally by Frontline, a New York hardcore band from the early 80s. The addition of instruments and the harder rock sound of the album could be considered a precursor to the nu metal genre of music to come out in the later half of the 1990s.
Beastie Boys signed an eclectic roster of artists to their Grand Royal label, including Luscious Jackson, Sean Lennon, and Australian artist Ben Lee. The group owned Grand Royal Records until 2001. Grand Royal's first independent release was Luscious Jackson's album In Search of Manny in 1993. Also in 1993, the band contributed the track "It's the New Style" (with DJ Hurricane) to the AIDS benefit album No Alternative, produced by the Red Hot Organization.
The Beastie Boys also published Grand Royal Magazine, with the first edition in 1993 featuring a cover story on Bruce Lee, artwork by George Clinton, and interviews with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and A Tribe Called Quest's MC Q-Tip. The 1995 issue of the magazine contained a memorable piece on the mullet. The Oxford English Dictionary cites this as the first published use of the term, along with the lyrics from the Beasties' 1994 song, "Mullet Head". That term was not heard in the 1980s, even though that decade has retroactively been hailed as the mullet's peak in popularity. The OED says that the term was "apparently coined, and certainly popularized, by US hip-hop group the Beastie Boys". Grand Royal Magazine is also responsible for giving British band Sneaker Pimps their name.
Ill Communication, released in 1994, saw the Beastie Boys' return to the top of the charts when the album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 and peaked at number 2 on the R&B/hip hop album chart. The single "Sabotage" became a hit on the modern rock charts and the music video, directed by Spike Jonze, received extensive play on MTV. "Get It Together" reached Top 10 on the Billboard. Also in 1994, the band released Some Old Bullshit, featuring the band's early independent material, made number 46 on the Billboard independent charts.
Beastie Boys headlined at Lollapalooza—an American travelling music festival—in 1994, together with The Smashing Pumpkins. In addition, the band performed three concerts (in Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington D.C.) to raise money for the Milarepa Fund and dedicated the royalties from "Shambala" and "Bodhisattva Vow" from the Ill Communication to the cause. The Milarepa Fund aims to raise awareness of Tibetan human rights issues and the exile of the Dalai Lama. In 1996, Yauch organized the largest rock benefit show since 1985's Live Aid – the Tibetan Freedom Concert, a two-day festival at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco that attracted over 100,000 attendees.
In 1995, the popularity of Beastie Boys was underlined when tickets for an arena tour went on sale in the US and Madison Square Garden and Chicago's Rosemont Horizon sold out within 30 minutes. One dollar from each ticket sold went through Milarepa to local charities in each city on the tour. The Beastie Boys toured South America and Southeast Asia for the first time. The band also released Aglio e Olio, a collection of eight songs lasting just 11 minutes harking back to their punk roots, in 1995. The in Sound from Way Out!, a collection of previously released jazz/funk instrumentals, was released on Grand Royal in 1996 with the title and artwork a homage to an album by electronic pop music pioneers Perrey and Kingsley.
In 1992, The Beastie Boys decided to sample portions of the sound recording of "Choir" by James Newton in various renditions of their song "Pass the Mic". The band did not obtain a license from Newton to use the composition. Pursuant to their license from ECM Records, the Beastie Boys digitally sampled the opening six seconds of Newton's sound recording of "Choir", and repeated this six-second sample as a background element throughout their song. Newton brought suit, claiming that the Beastie Boys infringed his copyright in the underlying composition of "Choir". The district court granted the Beastie Boys summary judgment. The district court said that no license was required because the three-note segment of "Choir" lacked the requisite originality and was therefore not copyrightable. The decision was affirmed on appeal.
1997–2001: Hello Nasty
Beastie Boys began work on the album Hello Nasty at the G-Son studios, Los Angeles in 1995, but continued to produce and record it in New York City after Yauch moved to Manhattan in 1996. The album displayed a substantial shift in musical feel, with the addition of Mix Master Mike. The album featured bombastic beats, rap samples, and experimental sounds. Released on July 14, 1998, Hello Nasty earned first week sales of 681,000 in the US and went straight to number 1 in the US, the UK, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Sweden. The album achieved number 2 rank in the charts in Canada and Japan, and reached top ten chart positions in Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium, Finland, France and Israel.
Beastie Boys won two Grammy Awards in 1999, receiving the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album for Hello Nasty as well as the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for "Intergalactic". This was the first and, as of 2008, only time that a band had won awards in both rap and alternative categories.
Also at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards they won the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award for their contribution to music videos. The following year at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards they also won the award for Best Hip Hop Video for their hit song "Intergalactic". Beastie Boys used both appearances at the Video Music Awards to make politically charged speeches of considerable length to the sizable MTV audiences. At the 1998 ceremony, Yauch addressed the issue of Muslim people being stereotyped as terrorists and that most people of the Muslim faith are not terrorists. These comments were made in the wake of the US Embassy bombings that had occurred in both Kenya and Tanzania only a month earlier. At the 1999 ceremony in the wake of the horror stories that were coming out of Woodstock 99, Adam Horovitz addressed the fact that there had been many cases of sexual assaults and rapes at the festival, suggesting the need for bands and festivals to pay much more attention to the security details at their concerts.
Beastie Boys started an arena tour in 1998. Through Ian C. Rogers, the band made live downloads of their performances available for their fans, but were temporarily thwarted when Capitol Records removed them from its website. The Beastie Boys was one of the first bands who made MP3 downloads available on their website. The group got a high level of response and public awareness as a result including a published article in The Wall Street Journal on the band's efforts.
Beastie Boys released The Sounds of Science, a two-CD anthology of their works in 1999. This album reached number 19 on the Billboard 200, number 18 in Canada, and number 14 on the R&B/Hip Hop charts. The one new song, the single "Alive", reached number 11 on the Billboard's Modern Rock chart.
In 2000, Beastie Boys had planned to co-headline the "Rhyme and Reason Tour" with Rage Against the Machine and Busta Rhymes, but the tour was canceled when drummer Mike D suffered a serious injury due to a bicycle accident. The official diagnosis was fifth-degree acromioclavicular joint dislocation; he needed surgery and extensive rehabilitation. By the time he recovered, Rage Against the Machine had disbanded, although they would reunite seven years later.
Under the name "Country Mike", Mike D recorded an album, Country Mike's Greatest Hits, and gave it to friends and family for Christmas in 2000. Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz's side project BS 2000 released Simply Mortified in 2001.
The band increased its level of political activism after the September 11, 2001 attacks, organizing and headlining the New Yorkers Against Violence Concert at the Hamerstein Ballroom in October 2001.
2002–2008: To the 5 Boroughs and The Mix-Up
In 2002, Adam Yauch started building a new studio facility, Oscilloscope Laboratories, in downtown Manhattan, New York and the band started work on a new album there. The band released a protest song, "In A World Gone Mad", against the 2003 Iraq war as a free download on several websites, including the Milarepa website, the MTV website, MoveOn.org, and Win Without War. The 19th and 20th Tibetan Freedom Concerts were held in Tokyo and Taipei, Beastie Boys' first Taiwan appearance. Beastie Boys also headlined the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Their single, "Ch-Check It Out", debuted on The O.C. in "The Vegas" episode from Season 1, which aired April 28, 2004.
To the 5 Boroughs was released worldwide on June 15, 2004. It was the first album the Beastie Boys produced themselves and reached number 1 on the Billboard album charts, number 2 in the UK and Australia, and number 3 in Germany. The first single from the album, "Ch-Check It Out", reached number 1 in Canada and on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart.
The album was the cause of some controversy with allegations that it installed spyware when inserted into the CD drive of a computer. The band denied this allegation, defending that there is no copy protection software on the albums sold in the US and UK. While there is Macrovision CDS-200 copy protection software installed on European copies of the album, this is standard practice for all European releases on EMI/Capitol Records released in Europe, and it does not install spyware or any form of permanent software.
Speaking to British music weekly NME (April 26, 2007), Diamond revealed that a new album was to be called The Mix-Up. Despite initial confusion regarding whether the album would have lyrics as opposed to being purely instrumental, the Mic-To-Mic blog reported that Capitol Records had confirmed it would be strictly instrumental and erroneously reported a release date scheduled for July 10, 2007. (The album was eventually released June 26, as originally reported.) On May 1, 2007, this was further cemented by an e-mail sent to those on the Beastie Boys' mailing list – explicitly stating that the album would be all instrumental:
OK, here's our blurb about our new album—it spits hot fire!—hot s**t! it's official... it's named The Mix-Up. g'wan. all instrumental record. "see I knew they were gonna do that!" that's a quote from you. check the track listing and cover below. you love us. don't you?
The band subsequently confirmed the new album and announced a short tour that focused on festivals as opposed to a traditional tour, including the likes of Sónar (Spain), Roskilde (Denmark), Hurricane/Southside (Germany), Bestival (Isle of Wight), Electric Picnic (Ireland) and Open'er Festival (Poland). Beastie Boys performed at the UK leg of Live Earth July 7, 2007 at Wembley Stadium, London with "Sabotage", "So What'cha Want", "Intergalactic", and "Sure Shot".
They worked with Reverb, a non-profit environmental organization, on their 2007 summer tour.
2009–2012: Hot Sauce Committee
In February 2009, Yauch revealed their forthcoming new album had taken the band's sound in a "bizarre" new direction, saying "It's a combination of playing and sampling stuff as we're playing, and also sampling pretty obscure records." The tentative title for the record was Tadlock's Glasses, of which Yauch explained the inspiration behind the title:
We had a bus driver years ago who used to drive Elvis' back up singers. His name was Tadlock and Elvis gave him a pair of glasses which he was very proud of. So for some reason that title—Tadlock's Glasses—has just been bouncing around.
On May 25, 2009, it was announced during an interview on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon that the name of their new album would be Hot Sauce Committee and was set for release on September 15 (with the track listing of the album announced through their mailing list on June 23). The album included a collaboration with Santigold who co-wrote and sang with the band on the track "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win".
In June, the group appeared at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and performed the new single from the album titled "Too Many Rappers" alongside rapper Nas who appears on the track. It would be the last live performance by the Beastie Boys as a trio. The group would have toured the UK later in the year in support of the new record.
Speaking to Drowned in Sound, the Beastie Boys revealed that Part 2 was done. Mike D also hinted it may be released via unusual means:
Pt. 2 is pretty much done. Basically we were making ...Pt 1, had too many songs, so we recorded some more songs. Which sounds bizarre but it actually worked out, because it made it clear to us which songs were going to be on ...Pt 1. Then we had this whole other album of songs: ...Pt 2. ...Pt 1's going to be your regular CD in the stores and to download, but ...Pt 2 is going to be released in...we're still figuring it out, but a different way. More of a 2009 style. You could get in the shower one day and, boom, all of a sudden you're showered with MP3s. Or we might send people a seven-inch every few weeks, so you have a whole box set.
On July 20, Yauch announced on the Beastie Boys' official YouTube channel and through the fan mailing list, the cancellation of several tour dates and the postponement of the new album due to the discovery of a cancerous tumor in his parotid gland and a lymph node. The group also had to cancel their co-headlining gig at the Osheaga Festival in Montreal as well as a headlining spot at 2009's Lollapalooza and also another headlining spot for the first night of the All Points West Festival in Jersey City, New Jersey.
In late October 2010, the Beastie Boys sent out two emails regarding the status of Hot Sauce Committee Pts. 1 and 2 to their online mailing list. An email dated October 18 read: "Although we regret to inform you that Hot Sauce Committee Part 1 will continue to be delayed indefinitely, Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 will be released on time as originally planned in spring of 2011." One week later, a second email was sent out, reading as follows:
In what can only be described as a bizarre coincidence, following an exhaustive re-sequence marathon, Beastie Boys have verified that their new Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 will be composed of the same 16 tracks originally slated for inclusion on Hot Sauce Committee Part 1. The record (part 2 that is) will be released as planned in spring 2011 on Capitol. The tracks originally recorded for Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 (which now are actually back on Part 1) have now apparently been bumped to make room for the former Hot Sauce Committee Part 1 material. Wait, what?
I know it's weird and confusing, but at least we can say unequivocally that Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 is coming out on time, which is more than I can say about Part 1, and really is all that matters in the end." says Adam "MCA" Yauch. "We just kept working and working on various sequences for part 2, and after a year and half of spending days on end in the sequencing room trying out every possible combination, it finally became clear that this was the only way to make it work. Strange but true, the final sequence for Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 works best with all its songs replaced by the 16 tracks we originally had lined up in pretty much the same order we had them in for Hot Sauce Committee Part 1. So we've come full circle.
The official release dates were April 27, 2011 for Japan; April 29 in the UK and Europe, and May 3, 2011 in the US. The third single for the album "Make Some Noise" was made available for download on April 11, 2011 as well as a limited edition 7" vinyl single for Record Store Day five days later with a Passion Pit remix of the track as a b-side. The track was leaked online on April 6 and subsequently made available via their blog.
On April 22, the Beastie Boys emailed out the cryptic message "This Sat, 10:35 am EST – Just listen, listen, listen to the beat box". A day later, they live streamed their album online via beatbox inside Madison Square Garden.
The band was announced as an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in December 2011. They were inducted by Chuck D and LL Cool J on April 14, 2012. Yauch was too sick to attend the ceremony, having been admitted to NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital the same day, therefore the group didn't perform; instead Black Thought, Travie from Gym Class Heroes and Kid Rock performed a medley of their songs. Diamond and Horovitz accepted and read a speech that Yauch had written.
2012–present: Deaths of Yauch and Berry and disbandment
On May 4, 2012, Yauch died from cancer at the age of 47. Later that month, Mike D told Rolling Stone that the Beastie Boys had recorded new music in late 2011, but he did not say if these recordings would be released. He also said that the Beastie Boys would likely disband due to the death of MCA, though he was open to making new music with Ad-Rock and that "Yauch would genuinely want us to try whatever crazy thing we wanted but never got around to". In June 2014, Mike D confirmed that he and Ad-Rock would not make music as the Beastie Boys again.
Founding Beastie Boys guitarist John Berry died on May 19, 2016, aged 52, as a result of frontotemporal dementia, following several years of ill health. He was credited with naming the Beastie Boys and played guitar on the first EP the group recorded. The first Beastie Boys show took place at Berry's loft.
Yauch's will forbids the use of Beastie Boys music in advertisements. In June 2014, the Beastie Boys won a lawsuit against Monster Energy for using their music in a commercial without permission. In October 2018, Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz released a memoir, Beastie Boys Book.
Tibetan Freedom Concert
In 1994, Yauch and activist Erin Potts organized the Tibetan Freedom Concert in order to raise awareness of humans rights abuses by the Chinese government on the Tibetan people. Yauch became aware of this after hiking in Nepal and speaking with Tibetan refugees. The events became annual, and shortly after went international with acts such as Live, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe of R.E.M., Rage Against the Machine, Smashing Pumpkins, and U2.
Musical style, influences, and legacy
Originally a hardcore punk band, Beastie Boys had largely abandoned the genre in favor of hip hop and rap rock by the time work began on their debut studio album Licensed to Ill. The group mixes elements of punk, funk, rap, rock, Latin music and jazz into their music. They have also been described as alternative hip hop and alternative rock.
Around the time of the release of their debut album, Licensed to Ill, Mike D started to appear on stage and in publicity photographs wearing a large Volkswagen emblem attached to a chain-link necklace. This started a rash of thefts of the emblem from vehicles around the world as fans tried to emulate him. A controversial concert in Columbus, Georgia in 1987 led to the passage of a lewdness ordinance in that city.
The Beastie Boys are considered very influential in both the hip hop and rock music scenes, with artists such as Eminem, Rage Against the Machine, Hed PE, Limp Bizkit, Sublime, Korn, Slipknot, and Blur citing them as an influence. Beastie Boys have had four albums reach the top of the Billboard album charts (Licensed to Ill, Ill Communication, Hello Nasty and To The 5 Boroughs) since 1986. In the November 2004 issue, Rolling Stone named "Sabotage" the 475th song on their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. In their April 2005 issue, Rolling Stone ranked them number 77 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. VH1 ranked them number 89 on their list of their 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. On September 27, 2007, it was announced that Beastie Boys were one of the nine nominees for the 2008 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions. In December 2011, they were announced to be official 2012 inductees.
In 2003, Beastie Boys were involved in the landmark sampling decision, Newton v. Diamond. In that case, a federal judge ruled that the band was not liable for sampling James Newton's "Choir" in their track, "Pass the Mic". The sample used is the six-second flute stab. In short, the Beastie Boys cleared the sample but obtained only the rights to use the sound recording and not the composition rights to the song "Choir". In the decision, the judge found that:
when viewed in relation to Newton's composition as a whole, the portion is neither quantitatively nor qualitatively significant... Because Beastie Boys' use of the sound recording was authorized, the sole basis of Newton's infringement action is his remaining copyright interest in the 'Choir' composition. We hold today that Beastie Boys' use of a brief segment of that composition, consisting of three notes separated by a half-step over a background C note, is not sufficient to sustain a claim for copyright infringement.
- John Berry – guitars (1981–1982; died 2016)
- Mike D – vocals (1981–2012), drums (1984–2012)
- MCA – vocals, bass (1981–2012; died 2012)
- Kate Schellenbach – drums, percussion (1981–1984)
- Ad-Rock – vocals, guitars (1982–2012)
- DJ Double R – disc jockey (1984–1985)
- Doctor Dré – disc jockey (1986)
- DJ Hurricane – disc jockey (1986–1997)
- Eric Bobo – percussion (1992–1996)
- Money Mark (Mark Ramos-Nishita) – keyboards, vocals (1992–2012)
- AWOL – drums (1994–1995)
- Alfredo Ortiz – drums, percussion (1996–2012)
- Mix Master Mike – disc jockey, backing vocals (1998–2012)
- The Virgin Tour (1985) (supporting Madonna)
- Raising Hell Tour (1986) (supporting Run-D.M.C.)
- Licensed to Ill Tour (1987) (with Public Enemy)
- Together Forever Tour (1987) (with Run-D.M.C.)
- Check Your Head Tour (1992) (with Cypress Hill, Rollins Band, Firehose, and Basehead)
- Ill Communication Tour (1994–1995)
- In the Round Tour (1998–1999) (with A Tribe Called Quest)
- To the 5 Boroughs Tour (2004)
- The Mix-Up Tour (2007–2008)
Awards and nominations
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|1992||Check Your Head||Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group||Nominated|
|1995||"Sabotage"||Best Hard Rock Performance||Nominated|
|1999||"Intergalactic"||Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group||Won|
|Hello Nasty||Best Alternative Music Album||Won|
|2001||"Alive"||Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group||Nominated|
|2005||"Ch-Check It Out"||Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group||Nominated|
|To The 5 Boroughs||Best Rap Album||Nominated|
|2008||"Off the Grid"||Best Pop Instrumental Performance||Nominated|
|The Mix-Up||Best Contemporary Instrumental Album||Won|
|2010||"Too Many Rappers" (featuring Nas)||Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group||Nominated|
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|1994||"Sabotage"||Video of the Year||Nominated|
|Best Group Video||Nominated|
|Best Direction (Director: Spike Jonze)||Nominated|
|1998||Beastie Boys||Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award||Won|
|1999||"Intergalactic"||Best Hip-Hop Video||Won|
|2009||"Sabotage"||Best Video (That Should Have Won a Moonman)||Won|
|2011||"Make Some Noise"||Video of the Year||Nominated|
|Best Direction (Director: Adam Yauch)||Won|
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|1994||Beastie Boys||Best Group||Nominated|
|Hello Nasty||Best Album||Nominated|
|Beastie Boys||Best Group||Nominated|
|1999||Beastie Boys||Best Hip-Hop||Nominated|
|2004||Beastie Boys||Best Group||Nominated|
|2011||"Make Some Noise"||Best Video||Nominated|
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result|
|2005||"Ch-Check It Out"||Best Hip-Hop Video||Won|
|2009||Beastie Boys||MTV Street Icon Award||Won|
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