Written by Simon Geraghty.
I was young just minutes ago
To me the Beastie Boys were the Beatles and Rolling Stones of our time. Formed in New York back in 1983 they have sold over 40 million records, released four #1 albums were one of the most influential and ambitious groups of the ’90s. Over 25 years they re-invented themselves from their initial incarnation as a punk band to a jock-rap outfit and then to a band who offered a blueprint for your average 1990’s twenty-something.
To me they were like the best of childhood Saturday TV culture, a pot pourri of the Banana Splits, The Muppet Show, King Kong and Tarzan movies, Starsky & Hutch, ChiPs, the Dukes of Hazzard, Green Hornet, Hong Kong Phooey, and Kung Fu series, the anarchic Three Stooges, Marx Brothers, Tiswas and without the drama of Dallas and Falcon Crest! They were like the cooler older brother I never had introducing me to the likes of Sly & the Family Stone, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Grandmaster Flash through their cut-and-paste sampling of culture.
I was greatly saddened to hear that Adam Yauch passed away last week at the age of 47 from cancer, not because I knew him in any way personally, but to me his passing represented the death of part of my growing up. I saw them in the RDS supported by the mind blowing Jon Spencer blues explosion in 1995 and again in Madison Square Garden in 1997. But it was more their cultural influence on me and as a loss of youth as Maurice Sendak, another creative talent who passed away, put it ”I was young just minutes ago”.
It was this incredible alchemy of personality types that helped raise the Beastie Boys to the pinnacle of success for much of their quarter century existence. Rolling Stone magazine describes each of the Beastie Boys as having a different personality:
- Mike D is the examiner: He looks around, takes in all the information, and is laid-back.
- MCA was always the mature one, but he could be a fool when it was time to be a fool.
- Ad-Rock is just full of life. He’s approachable, affectionate and funny.
Like any team or business everyone needs a clearly defined role and you should to play to each other’s strengths. In a less slapstick fashion than, the Beastie Boys public personas, less Wacky Racers, or the Monkees and more like the Breakfast Club or the Magnificent 7:
- The philosopher: Someone on your team has to make sense of the world, the market and data around you, what works, what doesn’t, and where is the gap? The person who can think creatively and outside the box and go against the flow, to pardon the rapping pun.
- The scientist: Think Dr Banner, but not the Incredible Hulk, someone who can analyse, experiment, synthesise and produce the formula, write the code, deliver an end product.
- The organiser: The ringmaster or plate spinner who can juggle it all and make sure that everything lands where it should
- The showman: The outgoing one to bring in Sales, manage your client relationships, do interviews, present your business to the outside world – with some of the vanity that that entails!
- The jester: there will always be tough times for your business, so who is that someone who can rally everyone and get people smiling again?
Are they simpatico?
Your business or partnership should look for the same blend of personalities; spend the time looking at your team’s strength and weaknesses. Be open about who brings what to the table, even in a smaller business or team who has that mixture of a few of the traits above?
And if you work on your own, you can’t do it all or have it all, so who do you turn to for advice and support? The Beastie Boys surrounded themselves with great talents as well: The Dust Brothers, Rick Rubin, Mixmaster Mike, Money Mark, and Spike Jonze (as an aside, who was married to Sofia Coppela, and it is said ‘Lost in Translation’ is loosely autobiographical on her part).
The key is are these people who will stick by your side through it all and help you get where you want to go? It is likely you might see more of these people than your own friends and family, so at a basic level are they simpatico?
The B’Boy Secret to longevity
To sustain success over 25 years you need to be very open honest and up-front. Don’t let grudges or resentments fester. Giving free reign for everyone to follow their own side projects helps as well.
Apart from the band and their music, Yauch was also a filmmaker (in his own right and as a distributor Oscilloscope Laboratories), an activist who did enormous work to promote a Free Tibet, and a magazine publisher, Yauch founded Grand Royal magazine with fellow band members Adam Horowitz and Mike Diamond in 1993. Under the alias of Nathanial Hörnblowér, Yauch also directed many of the Beastie Boys most iconic videos including:
Under his own name, Yauch directed last year’s Fight For Your Right Revisited, the extended video for “Make Some Noise” from Beastie Boys’ recent album Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. It starred Seth Rogen, Elijah Wood and Danny McBride as the 1986 Beastie Boys, who muddle through a half hour cameo studded series of misadventures before squaring up to Will Ferrell, Jack Black and John C. Reilly as Beastie Boys of the future.
To me the Beastie Boys are ultimately a celebration of great friendship, they taught me and many others a lot about life, people and music. They are, were and will be an inspiration. Rest in Pease Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch.