John Berry, a founding member and guitarist of The Beastie Boys, has died at the age of 52. Though his name is rarely mentioned when discussing the legendary hip-hop outfit, he played and integral part in their most formative years thrashing and bashing in NYC’s burgeoning punk scene. Berry, known for his energy and raucous guitar work played in The Young Aborigines, a precursory outfit that found an adolescent Mike D on drums, with Adam Yauch later joining the group to play bass, after which they renamed themselves Beastie Boys, a title that Berry champions has his own creation.
Berry remained with the group through the recording of the very first Beastie Boys EP, Pollywag Stew, which features the staple ““Egg Raid On Mojo,” performed years after his departure and the arrival of their breakout Licensed To Ill LP. He fled the group around just after the EP’s release, citing drug use and disinterest, claiming to have showed up to rehearsals late and high on crystal meth in a 1998 interview with SPIN, replaced by Adam Horowitz as the band began to take its final steps towards solidifying the identity that we’ve long grown to cherish. It’s a sad day, no doubt, but the thought of Berry and Yauch banging heads in the afterlife will get us through. RIP, John Berry.