Beastie Boys were an American hip-hop trio from New York City. They were formed in 1981 and their members included Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “MCA” Yauch, and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz. The group is known for blending hardcore punk and metal with hip-hop and rap. They are the largest selling rap group since Billboard began recording sales in 1991, selling over 20 million records in the US alone.
Starting solely as a hardcore punk band, Beastie Boys began their career opening for acts such as the Misfits. The Beastie Boys subsequently began to experiment with hip-hop, which can be heard in their first single, 'Cooky Puss' which was successful across the underground scene in 1983. The group came into mainstream consciousness following the release of 'Licensed to Ill', which featured tracks such as '(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)'. It was at this moment that the group grabbed the attention of the music world with their fearlessness and obnoxious, hedonistic lyricism and crossover of hardcore punk with rap. Their debut album was hugely successful and became the first hip-hop record to top the Billboard 200 chart, selling over 10 million copies.
The trio released their second album, 'Paul’s Boutique', in 1989. Despite not matching the sales of their prior release, the album has since generated critical acclaim for its visionary sampling techniques. Subsequent releases from the trio include 1992’s 'Check Your Head', which allowed the group to return to their punk rock roots and experiment with different styles such as funk and jazz. This was followed by 1994’s 'Ill Communication', which was the trio’s second number one record, and included hits such as 'Sabotage'. These albums were followed by a further four releases, including 1998’s 'Hello Nasty' and 2011’s 'Hot Sauce Committee Part Two'.
In 2012, Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, becoming the third rap group in the history of music to achieve this feat. Later that year, however, Yauch died of parotid cancer, which prompted the group to disband. Since then, Diamond and Horovitz have worked on releasing a documentary film, as well as a compilation album, dedicated to the group’s history and influence.
Browse our unique collection of Beastie Boys photos and prints below.
Colour contact sheet of the Beastie Boys hanging out at Mike D's house during a photo shoot for The Face Magazine in 1994.
Contact sheet of photographs of the Beastie Boys taken by Jake Chessum in April 1994.