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Perry Farrell on Death of Adam Yauch: ‘He Was a Part of Our Musical Vernacular’

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Christopher Polk / Matt Cardy, Getty Images

Jane’s Addiction vocalist Perry Farrell offered a heartfelt eulogy on the passing of Beastie Boys‘ member  Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch, who died yesterday (May 4) at the age of 47 after a battle with salivary gland cancer. Farrell labeled Yauch a part of our “musical vernacular.” We couldn’t agree more with that assessment.

In his story, which he shared with Rolling Stone, Farrell recalled the first time he saw the band in L.A. At the time, they were playing instruments and were more punk rock than hip-hop. As both of their bands started their alt rock ascent, the parallels between them became more obvious.

“They came up together with us, in a way,” he remembered. “I saw they were wild, but they had a side to them that was very intelligent and I wanted to befriend them.”

Farrell invited the Beastie Boys to play Lollapalooza back in 1994, which in his estimation was one of “highlight years” of the fest when it was an annual, traveling event.

Farrell remained in contact with Yauch through the years. “When they did the Tibetan Freedom Concert, they invited me to perform with Porno for Pyros and again, I got to know them a little bit better,” Farrell said. “I remember we would have these relay races through the hallways in the hotels with just our friends, and a bottle of wine as the baton. It endeared me to him and to the Beastie Boys. I kind of felt like they were family, but once removed.”

As Yauch was dealing with cancer later in life, Farrell lost touch with him for a bit. “When I saw Mike D a couple of weeks ago, I asked about Adam and how he was,” Farrell recalled. “And people don’t know this, but I’d been trying to connect with Adam to get him to come out and do another Lollapalooza. After a while, I just stopped hearing back from him. And of course they hadn’t performed since 2009, so not hearing anything wasn’t good news. I would ask him about on the fringes, and I didn’t really hear great things.”

Farrell said the last time he actually saw Yauch was when they performed at the same event. “The last time I saw Adam, they invited me to play Rock the Vote to get Obama elected,” he recalled. “I brought out Etty [Lau Farrell, Perry's wife] and we performed as PerryEtty. That’s a happy memory where we hung out for a really good cause. From there, I would text him every once in a while, see how he was feeling. He would text me really kind of sad things. He would say, ‘We’re giving up our studio. If you want to use our studio, you can use it.’ I hung out with Tim Leary before he died, and he was giving away his clothing and stuff like that. It’s really a very sad feeling; it’s kind of like an estate sale.”

Now that Yauch has passed away, Farrell offered these thoughts: “He’s probably in a great place, and I’m thinking about him and everybody’s prayers are with him. But there has to be a period of mourning, and now is the time.”

That need to mourn spilled over into his approach to a Jane’s show last night, saying, “We have a show tonight in Alabama, and I’m just kind of thinking to myself, ‘How do I bring that Jane’s Addiction party to these people when I feel so sad right now?’ They were the Beastie Boys – they were all about life and fun and partying. Their songs are played when people want to get up and get out and have energy, and this band is now silent.”

Farrell closed with the powerful thoughts about Yauch’s legacy as a person and an artist. “He was a good guy – that’s the thing that kind of strikes a really bad chord,” he said. “He was a really good guy trying to help people, and all about being innocent and wild, and even immature if you want to be. He was really such a part of our party vernacular – our musical vernacular. That’s where it gets me. It’s a very gray day.”

Read more on Farrell’s memory of Adam Yauch at RollingStone.com.

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