Entertainment & Arts

Founding member of Beastie Boys, John Berry, dies aged 52

The original Beastie Boys line-up
Image caption John Berry (second right) played on the band's first EP, Polly Wog Stew

John Berry, a founding member of rap group Beastie Boys has died at the age of 52.

His father said he had been suffering from frontal lobe dementia, which had worsened in recent months.

John Berry originally formed the Beastie Boys as a hardcore punk band with three friends in 1981 and came up with the name for the group.

He played guitar on their first EP, Polly Wog Stew, but left before they achieved commercial success.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mike Diamond, Adam Horovitz and Adam Yauch achieved commercial success as a three-piece

Berry attended the Walden School in New York with fellow band member Mike Diamond, known as Mike D.

The pair were later joined by Adam Yauch and Kate Schellenbach and released their debut EP in 1982.

When Berry left the group, he was replaced by Adam Horovitz, known as Ad-Rock, and the band took a new direction as a rap group.

Schellenback also left the group before the release of their 1986 album Licence To Ill, which debuted at number one in the US.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond paid tribute to Berry when the band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012

The group became a huge commercial success, recording a total of eight studio albums over 25 years, which collectively sold more than 50 million copies worldwide.

Four of them reached number one in the US, while their 1998 album Hello Nasty topped the album chart in the UK.

Their best-known hits include (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!), Intergalactic, and Ch-Check It Out.

Seven of their albums achieved platinum sales status and the band toured with Madonna in 1985.

Beastie Boys remained a three-piece until Adam Yauch's death from cancer in 2012.

In the same year, Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Billboard declared them the biggest selling rap group since the magazine began recording data in 1991.

Horovitz read a speech written by Yauch at the ceremony, which mentioned Berry as a formative member of the band's early years.

What is frontal lobe dementia?

Frontal lobe dementia is a form of dementia that occurs when the frontal lobes of the brain begin to shrink.

It is an uncommon form of dementia and is thought to affect about 16,000 people in the UK.

Frontal lobe dementia is distinct from Alzheimer's disease and comes on earlier in life, usually between the ages of 45 and 65.

Symptoms include problems with behaviour, language and thinking.

The frontal lobes of the brain are involved in behaviour regulation. The disease can alter a person's character - they may become impulsive and lose their inhibitions or become less outgoing and socially isolated.

Source: Alzheimer's Society and NHS Choices

Mike D later confirmed that he and Ad-Rock would not continue with Beastie Boys, out of respect for Yauch.

After he left the band, Berry went on to play guitar in several other bands - including Even Worse, Big Fat Love, Highway Stars and Bourbon Deluxe.

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites