Q-Tip, Chuck D Lead Tributes To Famed Hip-Hop Photographer Ricky Powell Amid His Death

Elijah C. Watson Elijah Watson serves as Okayplayer's News & Culture Editor. When…
Q-Tip, Chuck D Lead Tributes To Famed Hip-Hop Photographer Ricky Powell Amid His Death
Photo Credit: Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Ricky Powell passed away at 59.

Ricky Powell, the NYC photographer best known for his portraits and candids of musicians and artists — most notably the Beastie Boys — is dead at 59. Tono Radvany, Powell’s manager and business partner confirmed the news to Complex.

“I just want to let everybody know he was a very special man, and he will be sorely missed,” Radvany said.

According to HipHopDX, the cause of death was was heart failure.

Powell is best known for the work he did with the Beastie Boys. The photographer went to school with Adam Horowitz and became known as the unofficial fourth member of the band, serving as their in-house photographer for their License to Ill tour, as well as popping up in music videos like “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party).”

Also a part of downtown Manhattan’s art and music scene, Powell would get portaits of artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. He also took portraits of artists like Eric B and Rakim, LL Cool J, and Run-DMC. His photography was featured in collections such as 1998’s Oh Snap!: The Rap Photography of Ricky Powell and Public Access: Ricky Powell Photographs 1985-2005. In May of last year, a documentary was released about him titled Ricky Powell: The Individualist.

Powell also hosted a show on New York public access TV called Rappin’ With the Rickster, which featured appearances from Run-DMC, Laurence Fishburne, Eazy E, and others.

Since news of his passing, a number of people have shared tributes to Powell on social media, including Q-Tip, Chuck D, Questlove and more.


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