Adam Yauch, founding member of the Beastie Boys rap/rock group, passed away yesterday aged 47. He leaves behind a wife and daughter. Also left behind are a plethora of mourning fans and devotees. Along with Yauch, a piece of our modern pop culture has died.
The group is closely intertwined with a memory from childhood. It was a 5th grade field trip to visit the historic sites in Springfield. As we rode the yellow school bus the hour or so to the capitol city, a classmate named Brett regaled us with this new-fangled thing called a Walkman. Inside of it was the cassette tape of the Beastie Boys' 1986 album License to Ill. The Walkman, with its awesome little tunes playing through the headphones, was passed around and sampled by almost all of us. We would briefly jam to tracks like No Sleep Till Brooklyn, Girls, (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party), and Brass Monkey.
Yellow school buses, field trips and Walkmans are a part of my life left behind some years ago. They represent the past. But Adam Yauch and the Beastie Boys were still here, a living connection to that past. Now, Yauch joins the field trips and Walkmans.