Adam 'MCA' Yauch of the Beastie Boys dies at 47

    Adam "MCA" Yauch, a founding member of the pioneering rap band Beastie Boys, died Friday after a nearly three-year battle with cancer, the band's publicist said.

    A torrent of Twitter messages from entertainers lauded Yauch, 47, as a visionary musical artist, filmmaker and humanitarian.

    Yauch revealed in 2009 that he had a cancerous tumor in a salivary gland. As a result, the band canceled its scheduled concerts and delayed the release of an album.

    Yauch, a self-taught bassist and vocalist, underwent surgery to treat the tumor that year.

    The Beastie Boys burst on the music scene in 1986 with the album "Licensed to Ill," which included hits such as "(You Gotta) Fight for the Right (to Party"), an anthem to teen angst; "Brass Monkey" and "No Sleep Till Brooklyn."

    The group came together for the first time to play at Yauch's 17th birthday party, its publicist said.

    Yauch was the oldest of the Beastie Boys, an only child who grew up in Brooklyn Heights, according to Current Biography magazine. The band, which also featured Michael "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Adrock" Horovitz, sold more than 40 million records.

    Yauch was unable to attend the band's induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last month. Horovitz read Yauch's acceptance letter.

    As a Buddhist, Yauch became an advocate for Tibetan freedom.

    He founded the Milarepa Fund, which helped raise money for the effort, and organized charity concerts involving the Beastie Boys and other acts, including the first Tibetan Freedom Concert in 1996. Several similar concerts followed.

    The Milarepa Fund also organized a 9/11 benefit concert for residents deemed unlikely to get aid from other sources.

    Yauch founded Oscilloscope Laboratories, which was active in independent video distribution. Its founder directed the basketball documentary "Gunnin' For That #1 Spot," released in 2008.

    "Adam was incredibly sweet and the most sensitive artist, who I loved dearly," said music impresario Russell Simmons. "I was always inspired by his work. He will be missed by all of us."

    Yauch is survived by his wife, Dechen, and a daughter, according to the band's publicist.

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    A great loss for the world and especially for the music world...

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