"It is with great sadness that we confirm that musician, rapper, activist and director Adam 'MCA' Yauch, founding member of Beastie Boys and also of the Milarepa Foundation that produced the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits, and film production and distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories, passed away in his native New York City this morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer," the message on the Beastie Boys Web site said.
The self-taught bass player was treated for a cancerous parotid gland and a lymph node in 2009 and had been battling the disease since.
He was 17 when he co-founded the Beastie Boys in New York's Brooklyn borough as a hardcore punk band with Michael "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Adrock" Horovitz. The group went on to sell more than 40 million records and win three Grammy Awards. The Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last month, but Yauch was too ill to attend.
Under the alias of Nathanial Hornblower, Yauch directed iconic Beastie Boys videos including "So Whatcha Want," "Intergalactic," "Body Movin" and "Ch-Check It Out." Under his own name, Yauch directed last year's "Fight For Your Right Revisited," a video starring Elijah Wood, Danny McBride and Seth Rogen as the 1986 Beastie Boys, making their way through a half-hour of cameo-studded misadventures before squaring off against Jack Black, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as Beastie Boys of the future.
Yauch also founded Oscilloscope Laboratories, which in 2008 released his directorial film debut, the basketball documentary "Gunnin' For That No. 1 Spot."
He is survived by his wife, Dechen, and his daughter, Tenzin Losel, as well as his parents Frances and Noel Yauch.
Rap icon Russell Simmons remembered Yauch Friday as "incredibly sweet and the most sensitive artist, who I loved dearly."
"I was always inspired by his work. He will be missed by all of us," Simmons wrote on his Web site.