Beastie Boys

A Musical Biography

by Jonathan Zwickel


No matter where they focused their energies, the Beastie Boys have defined success by their own standards. The New York City trio—Michael Diamond, Adam "MCA" Yauch, and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz—are a force of nature, still going strong after 20 years and 40 million records sold.

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Cover image for Beastie Boys

January 2011


Pages 154
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Popular Culture/Music and Performing Arts

A concise musical biography traces the Beastie Boys’ story from the New York punk scene through a blockbuster career that spans more than 20 years.

Ever since they hit the big time with their 1986 rock/rap debut Licensed to Ill, the first rap album to reach #1 on the Billboard 200, the Beastie Boys have been a cultural bellwether, the likes of which was unseen before or since. Their association with MTV made the Beasties instant poster children for an unprecedented phase of integration, both musical and racial. Their music, a pastiche of sounds that spans decades and genres, influenced the course of popular music and continues to do so today.

Beastie Boys: A Musical Biography tells the story of the band, from its beginnings through its ongoing critical and commercial success. Fans can read about the group's origins, the training of its members, its awards and accomplishments, and its influence on pop culture. Authoritative yet concise, this lively overview covers everything from the band's unique sound to their collaborations with leading filmmakers on their award-winning videos.


  • A timeline captures key events in the life of the band and its members
  • Photos show the band members and their performances
  • A selected discography reviews the band's work over the years


  • Looks at the band’s beginnings, in and the influence, of the New York art-punk scene
  • Shows how, loud and obnoxious about their rampant eclecticism, the Beastie Boys initially made a lot of veteran musicians and music critics uneasy
  • Examines the playful blend of rock and rap, pop and underground, old and new that became the Beastie Boys M.O. and a defining characteristic of their career
Author Info

Jonathan Zwickel is a freelance writer living in Seattle, WA. He's written for the Seattle Times,, Spin,, and more.

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