Original Beastie Boys member and guitarist John Berry died Thursday morning after suffering from frontal lobe dementia, according to his father who confirmed Berry’s death to Rolling Stone. Berry was 52.
Although Berry left Beastie Boys in 1982, he is credited as the mind behind the band’s name. In 1978, they were originally a hardcore punk band called the Young Aborigines, but by 1981 they had switched their name to Beastie Boys. The band held their first show at Berry’s apartment in New York in front of a very small crowd.
Berry performed on the Beastie Boys’ EP “Polly Wog Stew,” which was recorded in November 1982. Berry left the group shortly after, followed by another original member, Kate Schellenbach, in 1983. Berry then joined several other bands including Even Worse, Big Fat Love, Highway Stars and Bourbon Deluxe. After Berry’s exit, the Beastie Boys recorded their first hip-hop track “Cooky Puss,” which paved the way for their subsequent style.
Even though Berry left the Beastie Boys early on in their career, they haven’t ignored his contribution to the band. In 2012, when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Adam Horovitz read a speech written by Adam Yauch, who passed away that year from cancer at age 47. In the speech, Yauch mentions Berry and his loft where they would practice as teenagers.