Who would have thought that a punk band thrown together for its bass player's 17th birthday party would evolve into one of the most influential and groundbreaking successes of its time? Certainly not the then-teenage BEASTIE BOYS, yet the band's 25-year-and-counting career has logged 40 million in sales, two Grammy awards, the MTV Video Vanguard Lifetime Achievement award, four #1 albums--including the first hip hop album ever to top the Billboard 200, the band's 1986 debut full length, Licensed To Ill, and countless sold out world tours, magazine covers and TV appearances.
Yet it was in 1981 that Beastie Boys--then consisting of Adam Yauch (a/k/a MCA) on bass, drummer Kate Schellenbach (later of Luscious Jackson), guitarist John Berry (of Big Fat Love), and Mike Diamond (a/k/a Mike D) on the mic--debuted at Yauch's birthday party.
The Mike D/MCA/Adrock Beastie Boys lineup debuted in 1984 with the "Rock Hard"/"Beastie Groove" 12." Produced by Rick Rubin a/k/a DJ Double R, hired by the group as their DJ because he owned a bubble machine, it is the second record to come out on Def Jam.
Licensed To Ill dropped in fall 1986 and became the first Beastie Boys album--and the first Rap album ever--to go #1. Fueled by "Fight For Your Right," "No Sleep Til Brooklyn," "Brass Monkey" and "Posse In Effect," it remained at #1 for seven weeks and simultaneously reached #2 on the urban chart, becoming the fastest selling debut to date for Columbia and the first hip hop record to break 5 million.
1989's Paul's Boutique saw Beastie Boys resurface with a new deal (Capitol), a new home (Los Angeles) and a new array of styles. Produced by Beastie Boys and the Dust Brothers, Paul's Boutique laid down the blueprint for a generation of emergent genres and went over the collective head of a nation. The likes of "Shake Your Rump," "Lookin' Down The Barrel Of A Gun," "Car Thief," Shadrach," and the hip hop "suite" "B-Boy Bouillabaisse" contained lyrical and musical references too plentiful and diverse for the average mind to compute in one sitting. Nevertheless, Paul's Boutique elevates Beastie Boys to a new level of critical respect.
Check Your Head (Grand Royal / Capitol), released in 1992, heralded the return of live instrumentation into the B Boys mix. With Mike D on drum, Yauch on bass, and Adrock on guitar. Check Your Head would yield a watershed of new B Boys staples, including "So Whatcha' Want," "Pass The Mic," "Gratitude" and "Jimmy James." With the assistance of Keyboard Money Mark and assorted percussionists, Beastie Boys returned to the touring circuit and Check Your Head hit double platinum.
Hello Nasty was released (July 14, 1998) on Grand Royal/Capitol. Spurred by the monster (no pun intended, well, maybe) success of the "Intergalactic" single and video, the record clocked first week sales of nearly 700,000 in the U.S. and went straight in at #1 in England, Germany, Australia, Holland, New Zealand and Sweden, #2 in Canada and Japan, and Top 10 in Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium, Finland, France and Israel.
Having closed 1998 by accepting the Video Vanguard lifetime achievement honor at the MTV Video Music Awards, Beastie Boys rang in 1999 with Artist, Band and/or Record of the Year accolades from the likes of Rolling Stone, SPIN, The New Yorker and Playboy, among others. A month later, at the 41st Annual Grammy Awards, the now quadruple-platinum Hello Nasty took Best Alternative Music Performance, while "Intergalactic," nailed Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group--the first time an artist has ever won in both Rap and Alternative categories.
Beastie Boys' sixth studio album, To The 5 Boroughs, released in summer 2004, was the band's third consecutive #1 debut-and Rolling Stone magazine's only 5-star review of the year.