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Tim Sommer


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Tim Sommer is a former WNYU radio DJ who supported the Beastie Boys in the band's early years by playing their songs for the first time on his weekly hardcore/punk program "Noise the Show." The 30-minute radio program began in 1981 as "Oi the Show" in a Tuesday evening time slot on WNYU and then switched over to Wednesday nights.

In addition to his radio show, Sommer wrote articles about the New York music scene for the British magazine Trouser Press and several other punk 'zines in the early 80s.

In the July-August 1982 issue of Destroy LA 'zine, Sommer wrote about what it was like to be a part of the New York hardcore/punk movement during the time that the Beastie Boys first formed as a group: "The late summer and fall of 1981 was an unbelievably exciting time, no bullshit, and you probably can't have any idea of what it was like unless you were there and sweating. Punk and new music once again belonged to the streets, not the art schools and hipsters. The growth of 'Noise the Show,' constant gigs, more exciting bands from L.A. and Britain, and the discovery of an unbelievably potent scene in Washington, D.C., all combined to create more excitement and more inspiration from the New York scene."

Sommer's role in promoting the New York hardcore/punk scene cannot be overstated, for it was his radio show that gave many bands much needed first-time airplay. Most bands whose music Sommer played did not have an official record out. He regularly played demo tapes. Sommer played the "Egg Raid on Mojo" demo more than six months before the 7-inch Pollywog Stew EP was pressed in July 1982.

Beastie Boys have immortalized Sommer by including samples from "Noise the Show" in their music. Sommer's voice can be heard in the sample that introduces "Egg Raid on Mojo" on Some Old Bullshit. (Sommer says, "We're going to hear one now from the Beastie Boys. This one is called 'Egg Raid on Mojo.' They're one of New York's best.") He is also sampled at the end of "Heart Attack Man" on Ill Communication (1994). (He says, "What do we know about partying or anything else?")

In an August 2005 interview with Beastiemania.com, Sommer spoke about his first exposure to Beastie Boys. "My interaction with and cognizance of the Beasties actually predated both the recording of that early demo ["Egg Raid on Mojo"] and the Playroom show," said Sommer. "During the summer of 1981, during my radio show I began getting phone calls from these kids who would scream, screech, and holler about the Beastie Boys. They'd talk about how great the Beastie Boys were and demand that I play them. With a little investigation--very little investigation, in fact--it was revealed that the band didn't yet exist. These calls were more amusing than annoying. However, they were very different from any other phone calls I got while on air. Around this time--I cannot remember the exact month--I received a very primitive cassette in the mail. It appeared to be recorded live in a basement onto a boombox or something very similar. It appeared to be a one-of-a-kind original (that is, not a dupe of an existing recording or a prior recording), and it featured some very funny shouting and was rough and badly recorded.

"I liked this tape, but it was of such poor quality that I couldn't possibly play it on the show. However, the humor and the energy on the tape did inspire me to contact Adam Yauch and Michael Diamond, whose phone numbers were on the cassette. I invited them up to my dorm room [the Weinstein Dormitory at NYU] for a chat. This would probably be September 1981, but really that's just a guess. I never have been that good with dates. To cut a long story short, I told the two very polite kids that I thought they had a really good band. I also told them that if they were willing to take it seriously, I'd get them a gig. I had very good local connections at that point. With just one phone call, which I may have made while they were sitting there, I got them a gig opening for The Bad Brains and Reagan Youth at the Playroom. I firmly recall that the first words the Beastie Boys (specifically, Michael Diamond) said when they got on the stage at the Playroom was 'This is for Timmy Sommer, who doesn't believe we exist.' I guess this would be the first thing the Beastie Boys ever said on stage."

Hillary Snyder Bill Spitzer and Brian Lehrman