It is difficult to credit, when you consider their later preoccupations, that the first incarnation of the Beastie Boys was a gift to tabloid headline writers, creating outrage wherever the group went, causing riots and scandalising sleepy British society.
That it was all taken seriously was amazing even to my 10-year-old eyes, who could see that the Beasties were meant to be a real-life extension of the Saturday morning cartoon shows I was glued to. With their Volkswagen-owner bothering jewellery, Ad Rock’s baby-faced clowning and the custard pie antics of the Fight for Your Right video, the moralising made it even more certain that I and many other kids far from their native Brooklyn would love them.
Of course, history records that the band had the last laugh on everyone who predicted that their brand of juvenile humour would begat nothing more than a one hit wonder. The moves from frat house soundtrack to enlightenment now look so assured that again, it is difficult to recall exactly how close to being written off they came. Teaming up with the Dust Brothers to make an album now as universally loved as it was initially ignored, organising concerts in support of the Free Tibet campaign, apologising for the worst anti-women tirades of their Licensed to Ill days in the lyrics to Sure Shot.
The Boys done good.
And that is before we even get to the music, the incredible brilliance that is the Sabotage video:
The wonder of Intergalactic: I can’t be the only one who never walks through Shinjuku station without thinking of the lads dancing in a crowd of bemused Japanese commuters, can I?
And now that high whine is silenced. I first heard of MCA’s illness when learning that touring in support of their latest album was on hold pending his recovery from another round of treatment. 47 is far too young and cancer is a bitch. But as a Buddhist, perhaps he would have celebrated the impermanence of life, knowing that it is short for all of us and the end is inevitable. What matters is to live it to the full and bring happiness to others while we are here.
On both counts, MCA delivered.
Goodbye and thanks for all the tunes.