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John Berry

In school, we are often taught about the importance of cause and effect relationships. In the Beastie Boys' early days, the importance of John Berry's contributions can also be viewed in terms of cause and effect.

John Berry was the driving force who encouraged his friends to follow a path as music performers. It is relatively simple and does not require much to visit clubs and become a fan or follower of a particular movement within the framework of popular music. For the teenage Beastie Boys, that movement was New York Hardcore, and it would be at least one more year before the sounds of hip-hop would grab their attention. On the other hand, it requires a great deal more to actually channel that passion for a movement into forming a band and actually performing in front of audiences. It was at Berry's apartment that the Beastie Boys first played in front of an audience, even though the crowd was relatively small. Without this early venue, one could speculate that the band may have never attracted the attention of Ratcage Records' Dave Parsons. No interest from Ratcage Records would translate into no Polly Wog Stew and the cause and effect becomes apparent.

In a 1996 Public Broadcasting "In the Mix" television interview with Adam Yauch, it was revealed that a high school aptitude test told Adam to stay away from music: whatever he did in life, he should not choose a career in music. John Berry set him straight and told Yauch that he liked the guitar work that Adam had been working on. Often it is the opinion of a friend that matters most, so John's comments were taken to heart and to this day Yauch's career has been one of entertaining others through music.

Unlike some bands which seem to have an ever-changing line-up, the Beastie Boys have changed very little over the years. John Berry plays on Polly Wog Stew, but was the first to leave the band. In the September 1998 issue of Spin, John was quoted as having said "I became less interested and starting missing rehearsals." In yet another example of historic cause and effect, John's departure from the Beastie Boys led to the addition of Adam Horovitz. In the same article Horovitz said, "When John Berry went AWOL, I took his spot. I came up from the minors." While Adrock was playing with The Young and The Useless, he had familiarized himself with Pollywog Stew songs by covering them. It made perfect sense then for him to fill Berry's role. During the performance on the Tom and Gary cable access show, one can detect that Horovitz is not as polished as the others as the band rips through "Eggraid on Mojo."

Some fans tend to think of John Berry as the Beastie Boys answer to the one time Beatles' drummer Pete Best, who was dismissed prior to the days of British invasion. Yet, Kate Schellenbach seems to better fit that analogy. John Berry should instead be remember as the band's catalyst - a catalyst in the truest sense of the word. Grab a dictionary or chemistry textbook and look up catalyst, then proceed to nod in agreement.

Courtesy of Jeremy Shatan

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