Although Beastie Boys rapper Adam “MCA” Yauch’s cancer rendered him unable to perform over the last three years of his life, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was able to relive one of his group’s greatest compositions in another way just two months before he died.
When rocker and avid skateboarder Ben Harper reached out to Yauch, a lifelong skater himself, about lending his lyrics to three skateboards destined for an upcoming Tony Hawk Foundation charity auction, the Brooklyn native couldn’t have been more willing. Yauch kindly spread out the lyrics to the Beasties’ 1994 classic “Bodhisattva Vow” (from Ill Communication) over the skate decks. “Adam Yauch March 15, 2012,” he signed on the boards, used in competition by Hawk and other professional skaters.
“When Ben approached Adam about participating, he had no idea what condition Adam was in,” Hawk Foundation Executive Director Miki Vuckovich recently recalled to Rolling Stone. “If he did, he wouldn’t have asked. Understanding that Adam had been in treatment, he was careful to invite him to participate with no expectation that he would. But Adam responded immediately, and enthusiastically.”
Boards signed by Yauch, Harper and other rock stars will go up for bidding online November 29, with proceeds from the former going towards a New York City skatepark. Rock legends like Elton John, Tom Petty and Paul McCartney have already or are expected to contribute their words to a skateboard or two.
“I decided I’m going for broke and get a Beatle,” Hawk told Rolling Stone about getting McCartney, who scribbled out the lyrics to the Beatles’ “Blackbird” on his board, to take part in the auction. “I thought, ‘If I’m going to do this, I’m going for the top.’”