He is survived by his ex-wife, Dechen Wangdu, with whom he had a daughter, Tenzin Losel Yauch.
A devout Buddhist & staunch vegan, Yauch announced that he was being treated for cancer of the parotid gland in 2009. He subsequently underwent chemotherapy & radiation treatments, which delayed the band’s tour & album. Yauch’s illness was so severe, in fact, that he missed his group’s induction into the Rock’n'Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Yauch was born an only child in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Frances and Noel Yauch, who is a painter and architect. In high school, he taught himself to play the bass guitar, and formed Beastie Boys. They played their first show — then still a hardcore punk band — on his 17th birthday, while still attending Edward R. Murrow High School in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn. He attended Bard College for 2 years before dropping out. Two years later, when Yauch was 22, the Beastie Boys, now performing as a hip hop trio, released their first album Licensed to Ill on Def Jam Records.
I had the pleasure of working with MCA back in my rock days — he was performing at a Tibetian Freedom Concert at Radio City Music Hall, in NYC, alongside an all-star lineup that included Patti Smith & Ray Davies of The Kinks. MCA performed an acoustic guitar set (!!!) of protest songs while calling for peace in Tibet, and brought the crowd to its feet with thunderous applause. We — professionals and fans alike — were all amazed at his skill, his talent, his God-given gift. But most of all, we appreciated his humility.
In an age of obnoxious, over-bearing “celebrities” that are all about their fame, Yauch’s attitude was — and still is — a breath of fresh air.
Rest in Peace, Adam — you will be missed.