Founding member of the pivotal hip hop group Beastie Boys, John Berry, passed away yesterday at the age of 52. Berry was the band’s guitar player in their early days, and was credited with coming up with the group’s name.
John Berry attended The Walden School in New York with Mike “D” Diamond in the late 70s. They started a punk band together in 1978, joined by Adam “MCA” Yauch and Kate Schellenbach, calling themselves The Young Aborigines. The band would play shows out of Berry’s loft in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
At the time the band renamed themselves to the Beastie Boys in 1981, Adam Yauch replaced bassist Jeremy Shatan. He departed from the band with Schellenbach in 1983, both being replaced by Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz.
Berry passed away in a hospice, Thursday May 19th at 7:30AM, due to frontal lobe dementia.
The formative Beastie Boys recognized Berry as a crucial part of the band, as can be seen in their induction into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. MCA had been battling cancer shortly before Berry’s death and was unable to attend the ceremony, but he wrote a speech thanking John that was read by Horovitz:
RIP John Berry.