He is survived by his wife, Dechen Wengdu, and daughter, Losel.
In July 2009, Yauch announced he would be undergoing treatment for for a cancerous tumor in his salivary gland. Not soon after the shocking announcement did the Beastie Boys considerably scale back their appearances and push back their new album.
Two years later, news outlets began to report that Yauch had beaten the disease. He quickly took to the band’s website to clear up rumors. “While I’m grateful for all the positive energy people are sending my way, reports of being totally cancer free are exaggerated,” he wrote. “I’m continuing treatment, staying optimistic and hoping to be cancer free in the near future.”
On March 14th the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, he wasn’t well enough to attend. The ceremony in its entirety, sans Yauch, will air on HBO tomorrow, May 5.
The Beastie Boys are the third hip-hop group in Hall of Fame history to be inducted.
Yauch co-founded the groundbreaking group in 1979 with Mike “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz. Together the group made music history when their album, License to Ill, became the first hip-hop album in history to top the Billboard charts.
In honor of Yauch’s passing, let’s take a look back at their 1987 performance on Soul Train.