The Beastie Boys were a Grammy Award winning hip-hop group, comprised of Michael “Mike D” Diamond, the late Adam “MCA” Yauch, and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz. The trio was one of the longest-lived rap groups worldwide, and is credited by Billboard as the biggest-selling rap group.
Prior to their formation in 1981, Mike D played in a hardcore punk band named the Young Aborigines, which also featured three other members. After some experimentation with hip-hop and lineup changes that swapped out two members for Yauch and Horovitz, the name changed to The Beastie Boys, and they fully transitioned to being a hip-hop group with the regional hit, “Cooky Puss.” During this time, Ad-Rock was also in a punk band called The Young and The Useless, whose performances piqued the interest of a then young intern named Russell Simmons.
In 1983, the group ended up hiring then-NYU student, Rick Rubin, to DJ their live shows. Rubin would soon start producing records and coincidentally form Def Jam Recordings with classmate Russell Simmons. The Beastie Boys were offered an official record deal.
Following a string of successful singles and tours with Madonna, Run DMC, and more, their debut album Licensed to Ill was released in 1986 via Def Jam. It became the best selling rap album of the ‘80s, and the first rap album ever to hit Number One on the Billboard 200. They left Def Jam soon after, and their next six albums were released via Capitol Records.
In April of 2012, The Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The following month, Yauch lost his battle to cancer, and the decision to no longer release music as The Beastie Boys was made, out of respect for the late member.
To date, The Beastie Boys have sold 26 million units in the U.S. and 50 million worldwide.