John Berry, the founding guitarist of influential rap rock outfit Beastie Boys, has died aged 52 after suffering from dementia.
As Rolling Stone reports, Berry died on Thursday morning at a hospice in Danvers, Massachusetts. Berry’s father, John Berry III, has said he son suffered from frontal lobe dementia, which had grown worse in recent months.
Luscious Jackson, the band which Beastie Boys’ founding drummer Kate Schellenbach currently plays in, has posted a statement to Facebook, which reads:
“We are heartbroken hearing the news of the passing of John Berry, the original guitarist and founder of the Beastie Boys.
“He was a good friend and rabble rouser and if it wasn’t for him, there’d be no Beasties, no Luscious Jackson, no Grand Royal and god knows what else. John brought us all together in his crazy wooden house on the UWS… Rest In Piece friend.”
Berry, who is credited with coming up with the name Beastie Boys, attended the Walden School in New York with his former band mate Michael “Mike D” Diamond, before Beastie Boys eventually formed in July 1981 when the pair recruited Schellenbach and the late Adam “MCA” Yauch.
Beginning as a hardcore punk outfit, Beastie Boys often rehearsed at Berry’s old loft in Manhattan’s Upper West side. The band released their first seven-inch EP, Polly Wog Stew, in 1982, and Berry left the group shortly after, before Schellenbach left in 1983.
Aside from his time with Beastie Boys, Berry was also a member of several other bands, including Even Worse, Big Fat Love, Highway Stars and Bourbon Deluxe. His legacy was mentioned in a speech written by Adam Yauch, which was read by Beastie Boys’ Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz when the band were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2012, before Yauch died of cancer later that year.
Catch that speech alongside Schellenbach’s statement, below.
Watch: Beastie Boys 2012 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction