John Berry, Original Beastie Boys Member, Dies at 52

Adam Yauch (MCA), Mike Diamond (Mike D) and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) of the Beastie Boys in the 1980s.
Courtesy Everett Collection

Adam Yauch (MCA), Mike Diamond (Mike D) and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) of the Beastie Boys in the 1980s.

Original member of the Beastie Boys, John Berry, died on Thursday (May 19) at the age of 52. 

Berry passed away at 7:30 a.m. at a hospice in Danvers, Massachusetts, Rolling Stone reports. The outlet confirmed the death with Berry's father John Berry III, who said his son had suffered from frontal frontal lobe dementia that had recently worsened. 

Berry began playing guitar in the band when it formed in 1981 with Michael Diamond (Mike D), Adam Yauch (MCA) and Kate Schellenbach in the New York Hardcore scene. He is credited for coming up with the name Beastie Boys and hosting the group's first practices and performances in front of an audience at his apartment. 

In a speech written by Adam Yauch and read by Adam Horowitz (Ad-Rock) at the Beastie Boys' 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, Yauch thanked Berry and his loft on 100 Street and Broadway "where John's dad would come busting in during our first performances screaming, 'Will you turn that fucking shit off already?!'"

Berry was the first to leave the Beastie Boys after playing on the band's first seven-inch EP Polly Wog Stew in late 1982, followed soon by Schellenbach. Horowitz came in to replace both members, creating the lineup that's well known today. 

Rolling Stone reports Berry was a member of a number of other bands, such as Even Worse, Big Fat Love, Highway Stars and Bourbon Deluxe.


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.