Beastie Boys Adam Yauch was 'King of the Paramount'
Beastie Boys co-founder dead from cancer at 47
Adam Yauch, who as MCA was a founder of the hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, died Friday of cancer. He was 47 and had been battling the disease since 2009 when a tumor was discovered in his salivary gland.
The Beastie Boys played Seattle multiple times, including a late summer 1998 show at KeyArena, the Moore Theatre in 1992 and a 2007 show at the Crocodile Cafe. Like the Beatles in 1964 and Led Zeppelin later, they stayed at the Edgewater Hotel during at least one of their stays.
They also played the first KNDD Endfest on Aug. 8 1992 at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds and the 2007 Sasquatch Music Festival at the Gorge.
But it was a Wednesday night show in 1985 that was perhaps the most significant.
That April, Madonna played three shows at Seattle's Paramount Theatre – and those were the first on her debut concert tour. Madonna had previous played New York clubs and performed with Prince in Los Angeles, but prior to her shows here, she hadn't been the headliner in any major city show.
The Beastie Boys were her opening act.
However, the crowd of mostly teen girls wasn't receptive to their 30-minute set. The Beastie Boys made "the pro-Madonna audience feel like a swarm of hillbillies," according to the P-I review that misspelled the group name. One declared himself the King of the Paramount.
"It was a quirky, almost tounge-in-cheek act and the crowd didn't seem to be in the mood for it," P-I music critic Gene Stout wrote. "Each song was followed by boos and then more putdowns by the quartet of rappers."
There were only three Beastie Boys, though they also had a DJ for the six songs they played. During some live shows that year they had Rick Rubin spinning records, though it's not clear who was with them for the Seattle shows.
"They were very bad boys—they said 'f**k' all the time on the stage," Madonna told SPIN magazine in 1998. "The audience always booed them and they always told everyone to f**k off. I just loved them for that. I couldn't understand why everyone hated them—I thought they were so adorable."
The Beastie Boys didn't stay down long.
A year after their opening shows in Seattle, the Beastie Boys released "License to Ill" on Rubin's Def Jam Recordings. The record was the first hip-hop LP to top the Billboard 200 chart and has sold more than 9 million copies.
They returned to the Paramount for two sold-out shows in Jan. 1987, complete with a girl dancing in a cage. Stout wrote that fans seemed to like the group's "sassy irreverence and wise-cracking arrogance."
"Everything about this group is calculated to annoy in an amusing way," he wrote. "What comedian Don Rickles is to nightclub audiences in Las Vegas, the Beastie Boys are to rapping, teen-age America."
Feliks Banel, now a communications consultant, producer and local historian, was there as an 18-year-old.
"I remember that it was very loud and unlike any show I'd seen before," he said Friday. "They were funny - their 'Polly Wog Stew' early punk sensibilities gave them street cred with a suburban faux punk like me."
The Beastie Boys were expected to return later that year, but then Seattle Center Director Ewen Dingwall cancelled their show and a performance by Run D.M.C. because of concerns of teen- age violence and vandalism.
"We're trying to be responsible members in this community," Dingwall said at the time. "There are ample predictions of real trouble in the neighborhood. There's some limit to the risks I want to put this community in."
The P-I wrote that there hadn't been that much public concern around a rock concert "since Ozzy Osbourne canceled a Seattle show last year amid public concern about violence and vandalism."
The Beastie Boys' "Fight For Your Right (To Party)" video was often played on MTV that summer.
When the Seattle Center said no, the Paramount staff stepped up. But they had a 78-person security team and a heavy police presence including the mounted patrol was outside. Streets around the Paramount were blocked by patrol cars.
About 1,600 fans paid $17.50 each to attend the three-hour show with the Beastie Boys and Run D.M.C.. and the venue was just over half capacity.
"In 10 years of covering shows at the Paramount, I have never seen this much security at the theater," Stout wrote. "The Paramount looked like Fort Knox. Airport-style metal detectors clicked and buzzed as ticket-holders passed through them. Concertgoers were so fascinated by the spectacle that security guards, who nearly outnumbered the kids, had to break up groups of gawking spectators."
Yauch and the other Beastie Boys arrived on stage spewing profanities and swilling from beer cans. Their set included "Fight For Your Right (To Party)" and "She's Crafty." Run D.M.C. followed the Beastie Boys' short set with hits like "Walk This Way," "My Adidas," and "It's Tricky."
As of 2010, the Beastie Boys had sold more than 40 million albums worldwide. They were nominated for 10 Grammy awards and won three, along with three MTV Video Music Awards and an MTV Europe Music Award.
And in July 2007 – more than two decades after Madonna and the Beastie Boys played Seattle's Paramount Theatre – both were among nine nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Material Girl was inducted that year, and the Beastie Boys were inducted last month.