Beastie Boys Founding Member John Berry Dead at 52
Published May 19, 2016John Berry, a founding member of the Beastie Boys, died today (May 19) under hospice care in Danvers, MA, his family has confirmed. The musician was 52 years old.
Berry's passing was confirmed by his father, John Berry III [via Rolling Stone], who explained that his son had been suffering from frontal lobe dementia. His condition had worsened in recent months.
Prior to starting the Beastie Boys, Berry had performed guitar in the Young Aborigines. That band also featured Mike D (a.k.a. Michael Diamond) and Kate Schellenbach. Bassist Jeremy Shatan left the group in 1981, and was soon replaced by Adam "MCA" Yauch. They would soon rebrand as Beastie Boys, a name Berry had coined. Their first show was at Berry's loft in Manhattan's Upper West Side.
The four-piece hardcore lineup of Berry, Diamond, Yauch and Schellenbach recorded their Polly Wog Stew EP in 1982, and would issue it through Rat Cage Records the following year. In 1994, the Beastie Boys compiled it and the "Cooky Puss" 12-inch as Some Old Bullshit, which was released through their own Grand Royal Records.
Berry left the band before they veered into the world of hip-hop, but was not forgotten by his former bandmates. During the act's induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz read a speech written by Yauch that acknowledged Berry as part of the group's formative years.
Following his tenure in the Beastie Boys, Berry performed with bands including Even Worse, Big Fat Love, Highway Stars and Bourbon Deluxe.
Fellow founder Adam Yauch passed away in 2012, following his battle with cancer.