John Berry, one of the four (yes, four) original members of the Beastie Boys (one of whom was a chick), died Thursday morning in hospice care. John had suffered from frontal lobe dementia which had worsened in the past few months. He was just 52 when he died.
John is actually credited with coming up with the name “The Beastie Boys” way back when he attended Walden High School with Mike Diamond. The two misfits were joined by Adam Yauch and Kate Schellenbach, who then collectively formed a hardcore punk band. He was instrumental in helping the band land their first record deal.
It was at Berry’s apartment that the Beastie Boys first played in front of an audience, even though the crowd was relatively small. Without this early venue, one could speculate that the band may have never attracted the attention of Ratcage Records’ Dave Parsons. No interest from Ratcage Records would translate into no Polly Wog Stew and the cause and effect becomes apparent.
You can see the cover for Polly Wog Stew in the photo below:
Eventually, John Berry left the band to strike out on his own. He told Spin in 1998 that “I became less interested and starting missing rehearsals.” He was replaced by Adam Horovitz (Adrock). Later, Kate, the drummer, also left.
John Berry should be remembered as the band’s catalyst.
How Did John Berry Die?
The cause of John’s death is unknown, but when you remember that he was suffering from End Stage Frontal Lobe Dementia, “death from FTD is usually caused by the consequences of these physical changes, most commonly infections in the lungs, skin or urinary tract [source].”