May 4th, 2012
01:28 PM ET

Beastie Boys rapper 'MCA' dies

[Updated at 3:03 p.m. ET] Adam "MCA" Yauch, a founding member of the pioneering rap band the Beastie Boys, has died after a nearly three-year battle with cancer, the band's publicist said Friday. He was 47.

Yauch revealed in July 2009 that he had surgery for cancer in a salivary gland and a lymph node.

What is salivary gland cancer?

Yauch's death comes less than a month after the Beastie Boys were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Because of his fight with cancer, Yauch did not attend, Rolling Stone magazine reported.

The Beastie Boys - Yauch, Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz and Michael "Mike D" Diamond - did not perform that night. But Horovitz read a letter from Yauch to the audience.

"I'd like to dedicate this to my brothers Adam and Mike," Yauch wrote, according to Rolling Stone. "They walked the globe with me. It's also for anyone who has ever been touched by our band. This induction is as much ours as it is yours."

Yauch's cancer delayed the release of the band's most recent album, "Hot Sauce Committee Part Two," for two years. It was supposed to come out in 2009 but instead was released in spring 2011.

The Beastie Boys' debut album, 1986's "Licensed to Ill" - featuring the singles "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)," "No Sleep Till Brooklyn," "Paul Revere" and "Brass Monkey" - was the first rap album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard album charts.

Yauch was a founding member of the group, which played for the first time at his birthday party in 1981, according to the band’s Facebook page.

He converted to Buddhism in the 1990s after visiting Nepal and hearing the Dalai Lama speak in Arizona, he told the Buddhist magazine Shambhala Sun in 1995.

As a Buddhist, Yauch became an advocate for Tibetan freedom, organizing concerts involving the Beastie Boys and other acts to raise money for the cause, including the first Tibetan Freedom Concert in 1996. Several similar concerts followed.

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