Op-Ed: Adam Yauch – By Bob Lefsetz

This is not really my thing. But I find myself deeply affected.

I won't say the Beastie Boys were the Beatles of their generation, but they too tested limits and were decried by oldsters and embraced by youngsters. Their party anthem was ubiquitous on MTV when that channel still meant something. And unlike too many TV bands they didn't stagnate and repeat themselves, they didn't have their moment in time and fade away, rather they continued to test limits and grow. "Paul's Boutique" was so far ahead of what was in the marketplace that it took many years to catch up with it. If it had been on Sony instead of Capitol, it would have been just as big as the debut. Still, the music lives on.

As does "Sabotage" from their follow-up LP. In an era where videos were becoming more formulaic, focusing on glitz and beauty, "Sabotage" was a precursor to "Pulp Fiction", it was less about a fantasy life the fan could never inhabit than musical stars inserting themselves into our everyday world. The pictures were so good you continued to watch the clip, even if you were not enamored of the music.

And in an era where everybody's got a clothing line, most forget the Beastie Boys were there first. Or close to it. It wasn't seen as a cash-in so much as satiating the fans, who wanted to separate those who got it from those who did not, the same way Ken Kesey did for a generation previous, delineating that some were on the bus and others were off it.

And there were movies and a record label, even a magazine, but what's most important other than the music is what the act meant to its generation. Generation X. The one that Douglas Coupland wrote about in his book, those now approaching fifty, who grew up in the shadow of the baby boomers.

Sex was no longer free. The cost could be your life. The boomers were suddenly greedy and all that was left were McJobs. But Gen X had its music, rap, which most baby boomers still hate, still don't understand.

It was a different era. Madonna went on tour with an unknown opening act that she had no financial investment in. Can you imagine that happening today? And if you think the Material Girl's fans embraced the Beastie Boys, you probably believe the Greatest Generation, the baby boomers' parents, loved the Stones.

And despite succeeding with a hedonistic party anthem, the Beastie Boys radiated intelligence. Stupid was an act, which was quickly cast aside. Entertainment has too often sold dumb, and too much of our country embraces ignorance, the Beastie Boys wanted no part of that.

And they took a stand. Musical stars have power. But those with stature have abdicated it. They're afraid of turning off potential audience members. Whereas the Beastie Boys didn't care. Furthermore, they led their audience, they educated fans on issues. There's a direct line from the Beatles to San Francisco to the Beastie Boys. And MCA was an integral part.

Ian Rogers? Majordomo of Topspin? He started with the Beastie Boys. He gave up pursuing his Ph.D. because of the sound.

That's the power of music.

It's a sad day. For a long time we believed Adam would pull through.

Death is final. It creeps you out. Be sure to live while you're still alive.

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