The Parents of the Beastie Boys
Television reporters to message board users seem to, at some point, mention the Beastie Boys all came from "upper-middle class" families. This is an attempt to respectfully speak about the parents of Adam Yauch, Adam Horovitz, and Michael Diamond. There has been very little printed about the Beastie Boys' families so much of this piece is composed of excerpts from interviews that were conducted in 1987 for an article published in the February 1st, 1987 issue of the Los Angeles Times.
Adam Horovitz was born to Israel Horovitz and Doris Keefe Horovitz. They underwent a divorce when Adam was three years old and he was raised primarily by his mother, which may explain why he listed his name as Adam O'Keefe on the Young and the Useless Real Men Don't Floss release. Following the divorce, Israel Horovitz married Brit Gillian Adams, who is a notable marathon runner.
Israel Horovitz is a very successful playwright and screenwriter. When Israel has been interviewed about the Beastie Boys' success, he has always comes across as being very proud of his son. In the February 1st, 1987 issue of the Los Angeles Times Israel Horovitz was quoted: "I am delighted beyond description. It's like a kid taking over the family store. You just sit back and try not to show too much excitement because you don't want to deter him from what he is doing. But I have enormous respect and admiration for what he has done. If people can't see the humor and satire in the record (Licensed to Ill), I don't know what to say to them. It's all so obvious. I think the thing that makes the record so good is that it shows a real understanding of people; maybe not an understanding of 49-year-olds, but certainly one of 17-year-olds. Adam Horovitz, Adam Yauch, and Michael Diamond are very serious about what they do. They are not irresponsible kids. Just as I try to touch people with a play and bring some type of comfort through understanding, their album reaches out to kids and gives them a type of comfort. Everything about the album is on the side of the angels."
For more on Israel Horovitz check out his company: Gloucester Stage. Another web page worth looking at is a feature which focuses on Israel Horovitz's thoughts about the September 11th terrorist attack on New York.
Although we at Beastiemania.com aren't 100% sure of the date, many magazines have said that Doris passed away in 1986, just prior to the release of Licensed to Ill. If you look closely at the liner notes of that album you will notice that the Beastie Boys most successful album to date was dedicated to her. She was an artist in New York and from all accounts was nothing short of an absolutely amazing person. When the late Dave Parsons fell upon hard economic times in 1984, Doris and Adam invited him to stay with them. In an August 2002 Beastiemania.com interview with Parsons, he recalled they generously put him up for six months before he moved into a place on 11th Street. The August 6th, 1998 issue of Rolling Stone magazine touched on that piece of Beastie-lore and relayed the story how Doris bought Adam Horovitz his first guitar for his 12th birthday. The article stated that Doris was "a painter who also ran a thrift store in the West Village." As you probably are aware both Hello Nasty era songs "Instant Death" and "Live Wire" were written by Adam Horovitz and address the loss of his mother and his friend Dave Scilken, a former the Young and the Useless band-mate.
Michael Diamond was born to Harold Diamond and Hester Diamond. Harold Diamond was a renowned New York art dealer and his wife Hester Diamond worked as an interior designer in New York.
In that same February 1st, 1987 Los Angeles Times article where the Israel Horovitz was quoted, Hester Diamond said the following: "I saw the punk scene as ugly. But I'm not one of these parents who forget how they were when they were young. If Michael had been my oldest child; I think I would have died of anxiety. But when he is your third child, you have a different point of view you understand there is a curiosity to explore and that they will eventually grow up. Besides, they are solid kids. They never got out of control."
Harold Diamond passed away on November 20th, 1982. However, his name made news again in November of 2004 when Hester Diamond decided to auction off six pieces from their modern art collection through Sotheby's. The pieces which she parted with had an estimated value of sixty million dollars and were paintings by Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Fernand Léger and a sculpture by Constantin Brancusi. Charles Moffett, Co-Director of Impressionist and Modern Art at Sotheby's, was quoted in an artdaily.com news piece as having said the following, "these six Modern masterworks from the collection of Hester Diamond rank among the best to have appeared on the market in the last 30 years. Together, Ms. Diamond and her late husband, Harold, had an unerring eye for quality. They focused their collecting on only the finest examples by any given artist." If you are curious as to why she sold the pieces, it is because she is now focusing on furthering her collection of 14th, 15th, and 16th century Renaissance art works. Those of us who collect rare and expensive Beastie Boys records can relate (admittedly on a much smaller scale). We know what it means to sell one record so as to have enough money to afford another.
Adam Yauch was born to Noel and Frances Yauch. Noel worked as an architect in New York and his wife worked as a public school administrator. The Los Angeles Times had a great quote from Noel Yauch (when he was 56 years old) about his feelings regarding the Beastie Boys. "The funny this is, when I was Adam's age I came to New York to be an abstract painter and my parents didn't have the foggiest idea of what I was trying to do with my life. They thought I was nuts. I look at Adam now and the whole thing seems like history repeating itself. The words that want to come out of my mouth are the words my father was saying to me and I'm trying not to say them."
Adam Yauch's mother had the following to say (in the February 1th, 1987 Los Angeles Times article) about the Beastie Boys and their 59 Chrystie Street residence: "I understand how parents sometimes worry when their kids listen to some extreme forms of rock, but it doesn't seem to really change them. It certainly didn't make Adam a different person. I've always had faith that he knows the difference between good and bad they have been on their own for some time now. They have been earning money from gigs and their records lately, but the apartment for a couple of years in Chinatown was the worst thing you ever saw in your entire life. It was not to be believed I was afraid to even walk in the building." The place that Frances Yauch is talking about is the 59 Chrystie Street loft that the Beastie Boys rented with the money they were awarded for winning their lawsuit against British Airways. The lawsuit was filed because British Airways had used a portion of the Beastie Boys song "Beastie Revolution" (from the Cooky Puss 12") in a television advertisement without asking for permission. For those who are not familiar with stories of the Chinatown loft, it is the place where they lived and rehearsed around 1985. To this day many fans still make a pilgrimage to that address to see the place.
Today Adam Yauch and Michael Diamond are parents themselves and the aforementioned family members are now grandparents. It would be interesting to hear what each parent thinks of the band's longevity and cultural impact. We at Beastiemania.com want to thank parents of the Beastie Boys for giving their children the creative freedom to explore new musical horizons which over the years has blossomed into one great album after another.