Beastie Boy rapper MCA dies of cancer, aged 47

Los Angeles: Adam Yauch, the gravel-voiced co-founder of Grammy-winning hip-hop giants the Beastie Boys, has died after a three-year battle with cancer, the band`s publicists said.

The 47-year-old, better known by his stage name MCA and who also supported Tibetan rights, died yesterday, weeks after the pioneering white hip-hop act were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, although he was too ill to attend.

"It is with great sadness that we confirm that musician, rapper, activist and director Adam "MCA" Yauch .. Passed away in his native New York City this morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer," said a statement.

The Beastie Boys sold over 40 million records and released four number one albums, including the first hip-hop album ever to top the Billboard 200, the band`s 1986 debut full length, ‘Licensed To Ill’.

They won three Grammys: two in 1998 -- best rap performance and best alternative music performance - and one in 2007, best pop instrumental album, for ‘The Mix Up’, according to the Grammys website.

The three-member band canceled a tour in 2009 after Yauch announced he had been diagnosed with cancer in a salivary gland. They have not appeared live since the summer of that year, said Rolling Stone. Tributes began pouring in even before his death was confirmed -- on Twitter it became the top trending discussion topic, under the hashtag #RIPMCA.

"Another very sad day in Hip Hop. #MCARIP," said rapper Ice-T. Adding: "I`m going Twitter silent today in honor of MCA.. Rest In Peace homie."

MC Hammer simply said: "R.I.P. Adam Yauch Beastie Boys," while British Culture Club star and DJ Boy George said: "Such sad news about Beastie Boy Adam Yauch. A fellow Buddhist and part of hip hop history!! R.I.P!"

Born in Brooklyn, Yauch taught himself to play bass in high school, forming a band for his 17th birthday party that would later become known the world over as Beastie Boys. The rapper launched the band, initially a hard-core punk outfit, in 1979 with Mike "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horowitz, but they gradually moved towards hip hop, making it big with their 1986 album ‘Licensed to Ill’.

Yauch was also involved in support for Tibet, and helped organise charity concerts for the cause in the 1990s. He recently became a vegan at the recommendation of his Tibetan doctors, a website has reported.