Yauch co-founded the Beastie Boys with Mike “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz in 1979. The band started off as a hardcore punk group, but soon began experimenting with hip-hop. The band broke big with their first proper album, Licensed to Ill, in 1986, and further albums Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head and Ill Communication cemented the band as a true superstar act.
In addition to his career with the Beastie Boys, Yauch was heavily involved in the movement to free Tibet and co-organized the Tibetan Freedom Concerts of the late Nineties. In 2002, he launched the film production company Oscilloscope Laboratories.
I would argue that The Beastie’s run from Licensed to Ill through Ill Communication is as impressive a run for any band in music history and ultimately, they were one of the handful of defining bands of my generation. Yauch, largely considering the band’s ring leader, was instrumental in making that happen. None of their albums after Ill Communication were quite as good, but many of them, like Hello Nasty or The Mix Up, have their moments.
Anyway, Yauch’s Swiss-born filmmaker alter-ego, Nathaniel Hornblower, might have been the best thing he’s ever done.