As confirmed by Rolling Stone, founding Beastie Boys member John Berry has died. According to his father, he had been in a hospice and was suffering from frontal lobe dementia, which had reportedly “worsened in recent months.” He was 52.
Berry was a member of Michael “Mike D” Diamond’s band The Young Aborigines in the early ‘80s, but eventually he and Diamond (along with Young Aborigines drummer Kate Schellenbach) joined up with Adam “MCA” Yauch to form a new hardcore punk band. Berry is credited with naming this band the Beastie Boys, and he played guitar on Polly Wog Stew, the group’s very first EP. Berry and Schellenbach left the Beastie Boys shortly after that, with Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz replacing them both and the group officially switching from punk to hip-hop.
Rolling Stone says that Berry played with a number of other bands over the years, like “Even Worse, Big Fat Love, Highway Stars, and Bourbon Deluxe,” and he also got a shout-out in a speech written by Yauch (and read by Horowitz) when the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2012.