Beastie Boy Who Named the Band Dies at Age 52

John Berry left the group shortly after first 7-inch EP was released
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2016 9:11 AM CDT
Beastie Boy Who Named the Band Dies at Age 52
The Boys' "Polly Wog Stew."   (YouTube)

One of the original Beastie Boys—and the one said to have coined the hip-hop band's name—has died at the age of 52, Rolling Stone reports. Guitarist John Berry died at a Danvers, Mass., hospice Thursday, his stepmother, Louise Berry, tells the AP, noting that he had suffered from frontal lobe dementia that had been intensifying in the months before his death. Per his dad, John Berry III, Berry helped found the group in the early '80s with Mike Diamond when they were both students at NYC's Walden School, joined afterward by Adam "MCA" Yauch and Kate Schellenbach. The group's first 7-inch EP was Polly Wog Stew, and Berry left the band shortly after its release; his departure was followed by Schellenbach's, and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horowitz came in to replace the two of them, per Billboard.

Berry's dad tells the AP that as the band started hitting the big time, his son simply "wasn't up for that rigor," which prompted his decision to leave. Billboard relays part of the Beasties' 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech, written by Yauch, in which it was revealed how Berry's dad would often burst into their early jam sessions, held in his loft, exclaiming, "Will you turn that f---ing s--- off already?!" In that same speech, Yauch acknowledged Berry's contributions to the band. Other bands Berry played in after his Beastie days included Even Worse and Big Fat Love. Berry's family says it's planning an autumn celebration of his life for the public. He's the second Beastie to pass: Yauch died of cancer in 2012 at the age of 47. The Inquistr explains how Berry came up with the band's name. (Read more obituary stories.)

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