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|Also Known As:||Adam Keefe Horovitz||Died:|
|Born:||October 31, 1966||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||South Orange, New Jersey, USA||Profession:|
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A member of the pioneering hip-hop group Beastie Boys, Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz helped to bridge the gap between not only rock and rap but between black and white listeners with his group's amazingly popular songs and music videos. Horovitz joined the group as a teenager, ushering the Beastie Boys from a brief tenure as a punk act in the late 1970s to an early hip-hop act anchored by crude but deftly delivered anthems to debauchery like "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)" They soon transformed themselves into a more mature, if still wryly humorous group that mixed their punk past with elements of jazz, electronica and heavy doses of samples from obscure records, earning Grammys along the way for the album Hello Nasty (1998) and its addictive single, "Intergalactic," and selling some 21 million records while wielding considerable influence on the next generation of rappers. The Beastie Boys came full circle in 2012 with their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but with the death of co-founding member Adam Yauch only a month later, their career appeared to come to a close. But had Horovitz never recorded another note with the Beastie Boys, he would still have a quarter-century's...
A member of the pioneering hip-hop group Beastie Boys, Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz helped to bridge the gap between not only rock and rap but between black and white listeners with his group's amazingly popular songs and music videos. Horovitz joined the group as a teenager, ushering the Beastie Boys from a brief tenure as a punk act in the late 1970s to an early hip-hop act anchored by crude but deftly delivered anthems to debauchery like "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)" They soon transformed themselves into a more mature, if still wryly humorous group that mixed their punk past with elements of jazz, electronica and heavy doses of samples from obscure records, earning Grammys along the way for the album Hello Nasty (1998) and its addictive single, "Intergalactic," and selling some 21 million records while wielding considerable influence on the next generation of rappers. The Beastie Boys came full circle in 2012 with their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but with the death of co-founding member Adam Yauch only a month later, their career appeared to come to a close. But had Horovitz never recorded another note with the Beastie Boys, he would still have a quarter-century's worth of accomplished and incredibly diverse popular music to his name.
Born Oct. 31, 1966 in South Orange, NJ, Adam Keefe Horovitz was one of three children by playwright-screenwriter Israel Horovitz and his wife, artist Doris Keefe. Horovitz's siblings also followed their father into the entertainment business; his sister, Rachael, produced such acclaimed arthouse features as "About Schmidt" (2002), while his brother, Matthew, produced several television documentary series. While still in high school, Horovitz began his music career, though not in hip-hop. Rather, he gravitated towards punk rock, serving as the guitarist and vocalist for The Young and the Useless, a hardcore group that also included actor Adam Trese. During their brief history, the band opened for numerous established punk acts, including Bad Brains and Husker Dü, as well as a local act called the Beastie Boys, which featured Adam Yauch on bass and Michael Diamond as vocalist. Horovitz would join the act in 1983 following the departure of their original guitarist, John Berry.
The Beastie Boys soon became a fixture of the New York punk scene, landing opening slots on high-profile bills with The Misfits and Bad Brains, among other legendary punk acts. But their interests soon turned to the growing hip-hop scene, and in 1983, they recorded their first rap track, "Cooky Puss," which incorporated a recording of an obscene prank call made by the group to a Carvel Ice Cream shop. The single became a cult favorite on the underground club scene, convincing the Beastie Boys to pursue a career in hip hop - a bold move, given that all three members were from white, upper-middle-class Jewish backgrounds. After adopting the hip hop monikers MCA (Yauch), Mike D (Diamond) and King Ad-Rock (Horovitz, who later dropped the royal adjective), the Beastie Boys recorded their first hip hop EP, Rock Hard (1985) for New York University students Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, who had launched their own rap label, Def Jam, from their dorm room.
The Beastie Boys' individual vocal styles and delivery were immediately apparent and meshed almost perfectly, with Diamond's brassy voice offering brash counterpoint to Horovitz's bratty nasal honk and Yauch's hoarse, guttural bray. The group soon made their feature film debut in "Krush Groove" (1985), which was loosely based on Simmons' experiences during the early days of Def Jam. Their single "She's On It," which was featured on the film's soundtrack, reached the Top 10 on the U.K. singles chart, which helped to launch their popularity in Europe. However, the Beastie Boys remained virtually unknown in America until they landed the opening slot on Madonna's Virgin Tour. While the pop singer's fan base did not warm to the group's raunchy on-stage banter, the exposure afforded to such a high-profile tour boosted their visibility to a national level.
In 1986, their debut album, Licensed to Ill, buoyed by the hilariously crass single "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!), became not only the first rap album to hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100, but also the biggest selling rap album of the decade. Critics complained that the Beasties' material was crude, misogynistic and altogether mindless, which may have been part of their appeal to young male listeners of all races. But the album, produced by Rubin, shrewdly drew parallels between the boys-will-be-boys attitude and ear-splitting volume of heavy metal and punk to rap, which was underscored by the presence of Slayer guitarist Kerry King on the song "No Sleep til Brooklyn." The Beasties soon launched their first world tour, which was punctuated by numerous arrests and lawsuits, most notably in England, where they were pilloried by the music press. By 1987, the group had quit Def Jam over personal and financial differences, leaving industry observers to wonder how they would top their astonishing debut success.
After signing to Capitol Records, the Beastie Boys surprised fans and critics alike with Paul's Boutique (1989), a clever pastiche of carefully chosen samples from obscure funk and soul records and updated sonic references to recording styles of the past, driven by their new producers, the Dust Brothers. The band's humor had also mellowed to show a distinctly self-deprecating side, as evidenced in their music video for the lead single, "Hey Ladies," which featured the Beasties as hapless disco dandies. Though it failed to reproduce the incredible success of Licensed to Ill, Paul's Boutique gave the Beastie Boys credibility in both mainstream music and hip-hop, where they were feted for their detailed musical knowledge and skillful production. It also served as the launching pad for a string of creatively inspired albums that showcased the band's versatility while remaining true to their "old school" hip-hop origins. The double-platinum Check Your Head (1992) saw the group pick up live instruments for the first time since the early '80s and pay tribute to their punk past with a hardcore take on the Sly and the Family Stone song "Time for Livin'."
In 1994, the group returned to the top of the Billboard album charts with Ill Communication, the same year they co-headlined the Lollapalooza Festival with Smashing Pumpkins. They continued to broaden their musical horizons with the punk EP Aglio e Olio (1995) and the soul/funk instrumental record The In Sound from Way Out! (1996). During this period, both Diamond and Yauch stepped into new roles as the band's chief financial and creative figures, respectively. Horovitz, however, preferred to dabble in acting, playing troubled young men in underwhelming features like "Lost Angels" (1989) and "Roadside Prophets" (1992), while maintaining high-profile relationships with actresses like Molly Ringwald and Ione Skye - the latter of whom he married in 1992. He soon found his niche within the band as a remixer and producer with their Grammy-winning, album Hello Nasty (1998), which both Yauch and Diamond credited its sonically ambitious musicscape to Horovitz. He later adopted the moniker 41 Small Stars to remix tracks by other artists on the Beastie Boys' label, Grand Royal, and teamed with Suicidal Tendencies drummer Amery Smith as BS 2000, a breakbeat album that drew praise among members of the DJ community.
During this period, the Beastie Boys remained remarkably active as musicians. The Top 20 best-of album The Sounds of Science (1999) preceded a planned tour with Rage Against the Machine and Busta Rhymes, but the Beasties were forced to cancel their participation after Diamond was involved in a serious bicycling accident, which required surgery and extensive rehabilitation The group then served as their own producers for To the Five Boroughs, which returned them to the top of the albums chart in 2004. Another all-instrumental album, The Mix-Up (2007), saw slightly less sales but netted a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album. Its follow-up, Hot Sauce Committee, was slated for release in 2009, but Yauch was diagnosed with cancerous tumors in both his parotid gland and a lymph node. The record and subsequent tour was postponed while Yauch underwent successful surgery and radiation treatment. The album, retitled Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, which resembled the previous incarnation save for one track, shot to No. 2 on the album charts in 2011, while its second single, a duet with Nas on "Too Many Rappers," received a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. The Yaunch-directed video for "Make Some Noise" paid tribute to their gonzo video for "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)," with actors Seth Rogen, Elijah Wood (in Horovitz's trademark red baseball cap and t-shirt) and Danny McBride playing the younger Beasties as they continued their mischievous reign of terror. The Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. Diamond and Horovitz paid loving tribute to Yauch, who was absent from the ceremony, reigniting media speculation that Yauch had again fallen ill. Rumors were sadly proven correct on May 4, 2012, when his death was announced on the Beastie Boys website. His passing marked what appeared to be the end of one of the most accomplished and creative musical acts in hip-hop history. After a quiet period, Horovitz revived his acting career, first with a guest spot on the sketch comedy series "Inside Amy Schumer" (Comedy Central 2013- ) and then with a high-profile role in the Noah Baumbach comedy-drama "While We're Young" (2015) as a comfortably middle-aged Manhattanite.
By Paul Gaita
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