John Berry, a founding member of the Beastie Boys, died on Thursday at the age of 52. Berry’s father, John Berry III, confirmed the news to Rolling Stone, adding that his son had been suffering from frontal lobe dementia. Berry died at approximately 7:30 a.m. at a Danvers, Massachusetts hospice.
Berry met Mike Diamond (Mike D) when the two attended the Walden School in New York together, ultimately forming the initial incarnation of the Beastie Boys in 1981 with Adam Yauch (MCA) and Kate Schellenbach. Berry played guitar on the 1982 EP Polly Wog Stew and is credited with coming up with the legendary group’s name, though he would exit the group shortly after the EP’s release on Rat Cage Records.
Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) read a speech penned by MCA (who died of cancer in 2012) during the Beastie Boys’ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2012 that recalled the band’s early years spent blasting Berry’s parents with their unique take on hardcore punk. The band thanked Berry and his “loft on 100th Street and Broadway where John’s dad would come busting in during our first performances screaming, ‘Will you turn that fucking shit off already?'”
Longtime fans of the group took to social media shortly after the news of Berry’s passing hit, recalling his contribution to the group’s legacy and sharing memories of the early years:
Rest in power, John Berry.