"Check Your Head made Beastie Boys alt-rock superheroes." Rolling Stones Magazine
The Beastie Boys - Performers, Producers, Publishers Three
Coming from wealthy families in New York and looking more like frat boys than bad boys, Beastie Boys began their long music career underground in many ways. From their hardcore punk beginnings in 1981 the Beastie Boys were part of the post-punk sound that mixed elements of hip hop and punk that eventually made it into the mainstream but at the time critics and genre purists sounded out strongly against the them. From being viewed as macho clowns to an important influence in the musical sounds of the 90's has been an amazing turn around for the three boys from New York.
Mike Diamond (born November 20, 1966), Adam Yauch (born August 5, 1965) and Adam Horovitz (born October 31, 1967) were teenagers involved in the punk underground frequenting clubs as fans. Mike and Adam eventually took on the stage names Mike D and MCA and launched the original Beastie Boys in 1981. The group underwent several major changes in 1983. Membership changed from a foursome to the permanent and successful trio that included Mike D, MCA and Adam Horovitz, better known as Ad-Rock. They shifted to Rap from punk and the boys began working with producer Rick Rubin in 1984 which lead to signing with Def Jam and their first hit single She's On It that same year. And although their first album, License to Kill, was a hit with sales of over 750,000 copies the first six weeks after being released in 1986 it wasn't until 1992 when the Beastie Boys unleashed a new electric sound in Check Your Head that they regained a solid place on the charts.
Beastie Boys - In the beginning...
The Beastie Boys did not do well on the road in the 1980's. As an opening act for Madonna on her Virgin Tour and for Run-D.M.C. on his Raisin' Hell trek their outrageous and obnoxious style was not received well. Arrests, law suits and accusations of inciting crime marred their 1987 tour.
After that the trio spent two years remaking their sound, image and affiliations. They broke away from Rick Rubin and Def Jam and moved to California. They created a completely different sound for their second album, Paul's Boutique, which got great reviews from critics but failed to make the grade with the public. Listeners in the early 90's didn't know what to think of the new techniques the Beastie Boys used in this album. The extensive cut-and-paste sampling went on to be called visionary later but at the time it wasn't commercially successful.
From their rough beginnings The Beastie Boys evolved into an alternative rock grove band with strains of Rap peppering their work. They matured musically and socially from the late 90's through the following ten years and continue to have a place on the charts.
Undaunted by public indifference to their second album the Beastie Boys built their own studio and created their own music label to launch their third album, Check Your Head in the spring of 1992. The mixture of unsophisticated funk, old-fashioned hip hop and hardcore punk appealed to college and alternative rock radio stations and the album made the Top Ten Charts. 1994 was big for the BB's. Their fourth album, Ill Communication, went double platinum, their Grand Royal record label released Luscious Jacksons album, Natural Ingredients, and the first issues of The Beasties' Grand Royal magazine were published.
At two year intervals the Beasties released their fourth and fifth albums. The In Sound from Way Out, released in 1996, was another style switch introducing an instrumental jazz-soul and funk sound. Hello Nasty did well on the charts in 1998 and was followed by To the 5 Boroughs in 2004 but it was their instrumental, The Mix-Up, which won them a Grammy Award in 2008. Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 1 is the Beastie Boys latest 2009 release.
Did you know that...
- ...the Beastie Boys had a girl in the band. Kate Schellenbach was their drummer in 1981
- ...Pollywog Stew was the very first 7" EP Beastie Boys release
- ...MCA (Adam Yauch) heads Oscilloscope Laboratories, a successful film production studio.