Founding member of the Beastie Boys John Berry is dead from dementia at the young age of 52. Reportedly, the former guitarist died at 7:30 a.m. this past Thursday (May 19) in hospice care in Danvers, Massachusetts.
His father John Berry III confirmed the death to Rolling Stone that afternoon, as well as revealing that his son had been suffering from a severe case of frontal lobe dementia, which had reportedly taken an aggressive turn for the worse in the past few months. According to the Daily Mail, this disease occurs when the frontal lobes of the brain begin to shrink.
While Berry was not part of the Beastie Boys at the height of their success, he has always been credited with being an integral part of the band’s history. It has also been asserted that he had created the name when they were only teenagers.
Berry had a long history with the other members and had even been a student at the Walden School in New York with fellow member Mike Diamond. The band had originally been entitled The Young Aborigines in 1978, comprising Berry on guitar, Diamond on vocals, Adam Yauch on bass and Kate Schellenbach on drums. Their first shows were played at Berry’s loft, which was located on the corner of West 100th Street and Broadway in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Berry was featured on their first EP, entitled Polly Wog Stew, recorded at 171A studios in the November of 1982. He and Schellenbach then both left the group shortly after the EP was released, and were replaced by Adam Horovitz for the duration of the Beastie Boys' time in the spotlight. Aside from the Beastie Boys, Berry also played in other bands including Even Worse, Big Fat Love, Highway Stars and Bourbon Deluxe.
The Beastie Boys never forgot Berry’s contributions, and even mentioned him in their Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction speech in 2012.