Passings: John Berry, Original Member of the Beastie Boys, at 52

by VVN Music

Before the Beastie Boys hit the big time, they had two other members, Kate Schellenbach and John Berry. The two only appeared on one recording by the group, their debut EP Polly Wog Stew.

Berry, 52, died on Thursday morning at a hospice in Danvers, MA after suffering from frontal lobe dementia which had become worse since the beginning of the year.

Berry attended the Walden School in Manhattan with Mike Diamond and the two brought in bass player Jeremy Stanton and drummer Schellenbach to form The Young Aborigines in 1978 with Diamond on vocals and Berry on guitar.

In July 1981, Stanton left the group and they changed their sound to hardcore punk, bringing in Adam Yauch and changing their name to the Beastie Boys, a name that is attributed to Berry. They began to slowly build a fan base and played venues like CBGB, A7 and Max's Kansas City where they were on the bill the night the club closed.

In 1982, the Beastie Boys released Polly Wog Stew, an eight song EP that included the song Egg Raid on Mojo which was the only song from the album that the band continued to play in later years.

Berry left the group that same year, followed by Schellenbach who joined Luscious Jackson. Jeff went on to play in groups such as Thwig, Big Fat Love and Bourbon Deluxe. Both were replaced by Adam Horovitz.

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