The Beastie Boys, New York 1987.

Thursday, 20 October 2011


To be quite honest, when I first met the Beastie Boys I thought they were three idiots.

NME had sent me to New York and I turned up, on my own, to find them in a small, cluttered West Village flat. The atmosphere reeked of dopey, male adolescence. They proceeded to lark about, show off, chuck things around and generally try to make me feel as awkward as possible.

I smiled and tried to go with the flow, just in order to get the job done and get out of there as quickly as possible. 

It certainly didn’t dawn on me at the time but this little performance might have been a sort of test. Maybe they put all members of the media through it, just to see how they would react; I certainly have my suspicions on this score. I honestly don’t know if I passed the test or not, but after an hour or so, they shut up and let me get on with it.

When it was time for me to go, they presented me with a small metal keyring.   Apparently they gave them to all visiting members of the press.

The keyring was in the shape of two figures, an attractive young woman and a rather unattractive looking old man.  It was articulated so that one could make the figures appear to be in enthusiastic sexual congress.  It was the sort of low-brow trash that one can pick up in seaside novelty shops the world over.  If one was young enough, one might have found it mildly amusing - for a millisecond. When I got home I gave to my sixteen year old son.

In subsequent years, after they moved to LA, I shot the Beastie Boys many more times and I got to know them well.  As usual, my initial impressions of them turned out to be completely wrong. Three nicer and more intelligent guys one could honestly not hope to meet.  So I guess their earlier behaviour was a test.

We took the above photograph just off Eighth Avenue and a very one similar one later featured on the cover of the NME.