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Original Beastie Boys Guitarist John Berry Dead at 52 [Update]

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John Berry, who played a key role in the early years of the Beastie Boys, has passed away at the age of 52. The guitarist passed Thursday morning (May 19) at a hospice in Danvers, Mass., after suffering from frontal lobe dementia that had worsened in recent months. Berry’s father confirmed the news for Rolling Stone.

Berry was one of the original four members of the band, joining with classmate Mike Diamond as well as Adam Yauch and future Luscious Jackson member Kate Schellenbach in the band. He was credited with the giving the Beastie Boys their name.

However, his tenure in the group wasn’t a long one. After starting the band in 1981, he played guitar on the band’s first 7″ EP titled Polly Wog Stew in 1982. He would leave the band soon after, as did Schellenbach, and the two members would eventually be replaced by Adam Horovitz in the lineup that is most familiar to Beastie Boys fans.

The guitarist went on to play in a number of other bands, including Big Fat Love, Even Worse, Highway Stars and Bourbon Deluxe. During the Beastie Boys’ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, Horovitz read a speech from the ailing Adam Yauch, who made sure to mention Berry’s role in the band’s formative years. Yauch would also die shortly after the band was inducted into the Rock Hall in 2012.

Our condolences to the family of John Berry and his extended Beastie Boys family.

Update: Beastie Boys member Mike D. has issued a statement on the passing of John Berry in a Facebook post. Check it out below:

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