John Berry, original Beastie Boys member, dies aged 52

John Berry, the guitarist and founding member of Beastie Boys, passed away this morning in a hospice in Danvers, Massachusetts

John Berry, an original member of the New York rap group Beastie Boys has passed away. Berry’s death was confirmed this morning to Rolling Stone by his father who said that Berry had been suffering from frontal lobe dementia which had recently worsened.

The guitarist hosted the band’s first gig in his 100th street West loft in Manhattan and is also credited with coming up with the band’s name. Berry met fellow Beastie Boys member Mike D at Walden School in New York when the pair were teenagers and ended up forming the group alongside Adam Yauch and Kate Schellenbach in July 1981. Berry’s time with the band was short, he played guitar on their first EP Polly Wog Stew before moving on to other pursuits, but his influence has felt through the band’s entire career.

Adam Horovitz, who took Berry’s place in the band, paid tribute to him when the band were inducted into the rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame last year. See the speech below.