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
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.