You Say It's Your Birthday: Mike D of the Beastie Boys

Today is the birthday of Mike D of the Beastie Boys, born on this day in 1965 in

New

York as Michael Diamond. The Beastie Boys were instrumental in getting

cross-over

acceptance for rap music and today are considered one of the most important acts

on the

alternative rock scene. The group started as a hardcore band, with Mike D, MCA

and two

others in 1979. They lost the other two, picked up rich kid Adam Horowitz, son

of writer

Israel Horowitz, who then became Ad-Rock, and recorded an eight song EP titled

Polly

Wog Stew for Rat Cage Records in 1982. Hooking up with Rick Rubin, one of

the

co-founders of Def Jam, gave the band a new lease on life, and they recorded

their first full

length LP, Licensed To Ill, in 1986--their most successful hybrid of

hip-hop, hard

rock and jive to date--with the anthemic "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right

(to Party)"

blasting out of boom boxes of kids of all colors and stripes. Licensed To

Ill was

the first number one hip-hop album, selling in excess of four million copies. An

ugly legal

fight with Def Jam resulted in the band being on an enforced hiatus for three

years.

1989 brought the release of the sample-heavy and way-ahead-of-its-time

Paul's

Boutique, which was produced by the then little known Dust Brothers. In the

time off,

the Beasties had gotten more inventive and complex, liberally scattering

footnotes of

popular culture throughout the songs and playing off samples from such artists

as Johnny

Cash, The Commodores and Krokus. After another three year interval, they

released

Check Your Head, a huge leap from the stuff on Paul's Boutique.

The

album was looser, grittier, and featured a number of tracks with the boys

playing

instruments instead of rapping. Ill Communication, released in 1994, saw

the

group evolving further, adding elements of jazz to their sound and reinforcing

their

hardcore roots. The group has been the spearhead of the Tibetan Freedom Concerts

of the

past two years, using their star power to focus the attention on human rights

abuses in

Tibet.

Other birthdays: Tony Butula (Letterman), 57; Dr. John, 56; Norman Greenbaum,

55; Joe

Walsh, 50; James Brown (UB40), 47 and Sen Dog (Cypress Hill), 32.