I'm not normally one to get over emotional about the death of someone I've not met. People die all the time. Some contributed to your life in some way. Some drifted past you without you ever noticing. The death of one person isn't any more or less tragic than that of the next. But the shock news - for me at least, I never knew he was ill and all that, well not in that sense - of the passing of Adam Yauch leaves me with a hollow feeling. A real sense of loss.
If you're reading this then you'll know who MCA was, you don't need me to tell you. What I can tell you is what he and The Beastie Boys meant to me, and others my age. Something that's gone. Something's missing from the world. That can't be replaced. An MCA shaped hole. A Beastie Boys shaped hole.
The Beastie Boys were a huge part of my life. They influenced what I wore, what I listened to, a lifestyle. Not just me but my friends. To say we lived and breathed the Beastie Boys might be a little over the top but it wasn't far off.
First buying Check Your Head on tape. Unfolding the sleeve. Checking out the Puma States and Adidas Campus. They just looked so effortlessly cool on that cover. Just jeans, polo shirts, jackets and bobble hats. Was this really the same band that were once the red top pantomime villains? Caged gogo dancers. Stubble. Beer cans. Stealing the VW symbol from the rows of Golfs in the leafy suburbs. Outraging middle England. It's been the rage recently to cite Low as an influential album cover but for me Check Your Head was just as important. Paul's Boutique was great for the music but this was paired down. Accessible cool.
I'd first started driving around the time of Ill Communication. The first tape I had in my mum's Nova. The first tape I listened to after I passed my test. The sound of freedom. I'm listening to it now. Kicking it root down. Bringing back the memories. Driving into town. Parking up outside Tumblers nightclub on a Friday and Saturday night. Staying out in the carpark all night. Chatting. Listening to the music from the cars, from the nightclub, watching the world go by. The loops from Sure Shot and Flute Loop. Hearing Sabotage for the first time. Later seeing that video. They made irony look cool. I mean they looked cool dressed as 80s cops? Who else could do that? Looking cool trying hard not to. That album brought back the hardcore stuff. Heart Attack Man, Tough Guy. Whether you liked Biohazard, Earth Crisis, Black Flag, Agnostic Front or De La Soul or Run DMC you could like the Beastie Boys.
Yes the Aerosmith/Run DMC Walk this Way gets all the credit for fusing hip hop and rock but was it really cool? The Beastie Boys breezed through it. They were white kids who wanted to rock and play hip hop. So they just went out and did it. Upset people. Then grew up. And created the perfect vibe. They looked like they could be your mates. Approachable. You could imagine just hanging round with them. Not like rock stars.
Most of my mates around this time were skaters. Some a good 10 years older than me. The music a mixture of indie, hip hop and hardcore. The Beastie Boys ticked all the boxes. The look didn't come too expensive either. Ben Davis shirts, puma states, gazelles, jeans, grandad jacket, chunky fat laces. 'Retro' sportswear before it was killed off. I couldn't skate, but I looked pretty good and had loads of trainers. And a camcorder. So stuck to making skate videos around various Bradford car parks, set to the music of the Beastie Boys. With a sideline filming the odd Beasties inspired hardcore gigs at the likes of 1in12 and Rios. When I work out how to get them from a 90s camcorder onto YouTube, I shall.
Hello Nasty and the Beastie Boys were mainstream. Intergalactic all over MTV2. Then a few years late The 5 Boroughs. A love letter to New York post 9/11. They'd grown up and I'd grown apart from them. I'd yet to see them live for some reason. Decided it was time to put that right and drove over to see them in Manchester. And fell in love all over again. Tonight I'm glad I did.
Around the same time I had a magazine clear out. Mainly piles and piles of The Face. The only one I kept was the 1998 issue with The Beastie Boys on the front. New Balance and turn ups. I still have it alongside the second issue of their Grand Royal magazine. The flexi disc is still inside. I'm not sure what's on it.
Wil The Beastie Boys carry on? Who knows.Only the remaining duo. The world is certainly a better place for Adam Yauch, Mike Daimond and Adam Horovitz. The same hooligans accused by frothing tabloids of rampant misogyny with their caged gogo dancers were now making amends. They grew up together and grew up with us. From parent shocking Saturday morning TV anti-heros to Buddhists and activists of some description or another. They oozed class and it's never looked or sounded so cool.
A decade later Adam Yauch was finally making amends, drawing a line in Sure Shot:
I want to say a little something that's long overdue
The disrespect to women has got to be through
To all the mothers and sisters and the wives and friends
I want to offer my love and respect to the end
And he did. And he will be missed.