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RIP John Berry

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  • RIP John Berry

    John Berry, founding Beastie Boys member, dies aged 52

    Guitarist was part of the original punk band the hip-hop outfit sprang from, and coined the group’s name before leaving after the release of their first EP

    John Berry, one of the founding members of the Beastie Boys, has died aged 52. The musician’s father told Rolling Stone that Berry had died on Thursday in a hospice in Danvers, Massachusetts, after his frontal lobe dementia condition had worsened in recent months.

    Although the Beastie Boys rose to fame as a hip-hop three-piece, they originated as a hardcore punk band called the Young Aborigines in 1978, featuring Berry, Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “MCA” Yauch and Kate Schellenbach. Berry, the band’s guitarist, left shortly after the release of their first EP, Polly Wog Stew, and was replaced by Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz.

    Berry’s tenure in the group lasted for less than a year but he was an instrumental part of their formation: Yauch, Diamond, and Horovitz have credited Berry with coming up with the group’s name, while his apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side served as the venue for the first Beastie Boys shows.

    Berry went on to perform with a number of other bands including Bourbon Deluxe, Highway Stars, Big Fat Love, and Even Worse.

    The group mentioned his contribution in a speech during their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2012. Horovitz, who read the speech, gave a dedication “to John Berry [and] to John Berry’s loft on 100th Street and Broadway, where John’s dad would come busting in during our first practices screaming, ‘Would you turn that fucking shit off already?’”

    In 2014, Mike D has said that the group had been unable to stage live shows or record new music since the death of Adam Yauch of cancer two years earlier.