15 Members of the EGOT Winners' Circle (and 20 Almost-EGOTS)

Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images
Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images

Life should have been good for Miami Vice’s Philip Michael Thomas in 1985. He was the star of one of television’s biggest hits, had released his first album as part of a multimillion dollar deal with Atlantic Records, and was making a name for himself in the fashion world (or at least trying to) with his very own women’s clothing line. But Thomas still had loftier goals, both in mind and on the gold medallion he was so fond of wearing. That dream was an EGOT.

Though Thomas swore that the engraved letters E, G, O, and T on his prized necklace stood for energy, growth, opportunity, and talent, those around the then-36-year-old actor unanimously gave a different translation: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony—the four awards Thomas had intended to win over the next few years. It’s now more than 30 years later and Thomas has yet to even be nominated for any one of those accolades.

While an EGOT may seem an unlikely reality for Thomas, it’s not an impossibility for all artists. On September 9, 2018, the club added three new members: John Legend, Andrew Lloyd Weber, and Tim Rice. Here are the 15 official members, a couple of SHEGOTS, plus several artists who are just one award away.

1. RICHARD RODGERS

Richard Rodgers
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Before there was even a name for it, American composer Richard Rodgers became the first person to EGOT (yes, the acronym can also be used as a verb) when he won an Emmy for the television documentary Winston Churchill: The Valiant Years. His Oscar came in 1945, when his “It Might as Well Be Spring” from State Fair was named Best Song. He earned Grammys in both 1960 and 1962, for the original cast recordings of The Sound of Music and No Strings, respectively. Between 1950 and 1962, he won six Tony Awards, three of them in that first year for South Pacific. The same year, South Pacific also earned Rodgers a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, which we guess makes him a PEGOT.

2. HELEN HAYES

Helen Hayes
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In 1977, 15 years after Rodgers inaugurated the honor, actress Helen Hayes joined him as the first female EGOT—an honor that took her 45 years to achieve, the longest of any of her EGOT peers. Her road began in 1932, when she won the Oscar for The Sin of Madelon Claudet (she won a second Oscar for 1970’s Airport). Her first Tony came in 1947, for Happy Birthday, followed by another in 1958 for Time Remembered. And she won a Best Actress Emmy in 1953 for an episode of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars. But it would take more than two decades for her to nab that elusive second letter, which she did for Best Spoken Word Recording for Great American Documents.

3. RITA MORENO

Rita Moreno
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Seven months after Hayes earned her EGOT, actress Rita Moreno did the same when she won her first of two consecutive Emmys for a guest spot on The Muppet Show in 1977 (the following year she won one for an appearance on The Rockford Files). But Moreno did it in about a third the time of Hayes, 16 years, which was an EGOT record until Lopez smashed it last night. Her Oscar came in 1961 as Best Supporting Actress in West Side Story, followed by a Best Recording for Children Grammy in 1972, for The Electric Company. In 1975, Moreno nabbed a Tony playing Googie Gomez in Terrence McNally’s The Ritz, a role she reprised in the 1976 big-screen version.

4. JOHN GIELGUD

John Gielgud
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Unlike his three predecessors, the Oscar wasn’t the first award John Gielgud won to earn his EGOT. Instead it was the Tony, which he first won in 1948 for The Importance of Being Earnest. He won a second Tony in 1961, as the director of Big Fish, Little Fish. Next came the Grammy, in 1979, for his dramatic recording of Ages of Man. In 1981, Gielgud took home the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his iconic role as Dudley Moore’s butler/sidekick in Arthur. And when he won the Emmy in 1991, for Outstanding Lead Actor in Summer’s Lease, he was 87 years old, making him the oldest EGOT-getter.

5. AUDREY HEPBURN

Audrey Hepburn
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Unfortunately, Audrey Hepburn didn’t live long enough to enjoy her EGOT. Two of her awards—her 1994 Grammy for the children’s album Audrey Hepburn’s Enchanted Tales and her 1993 Emmy for the informational Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn—were awarded after her passing on January 20, 1993, which made her the first posthumous EGOT recipient. She did, however, have the chance to bask in the glow of her 1953 Oscar for Roman Holiday, and a Tony for Ondine one year later.

6. MARVIN HAMLISCH

Marvin Hamlisch
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There’s a distinctively heavy emphasis on the “O” in composer Marvin Hamlisch’s EGOT, as he is the most Academy Award-winning of the bunch, with a total of three. All of them were awarded in 1973—two for The Way We Were and one for his score for The Sting. It was “The Way We Were” that earned him his first of four Grammys, too, in 1974. His collaboration with Barbra Streisand continued, and earned him two Emmys in 1995, for Barbra: The Concert. Hamlisch’s Tony came in 1976 for A Chorus Line, the musical that also got him a Pulitzer Prize, making him the only other PEGOT on this list.

7. JONATHAN TUNICK

Jonathan Tunick
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Composer/conductor Jonathan Tunick’s path to EGOT glory was a straight shot over the course of 20 years: In 1977 he won an Oscar for A Little Night Music, followed by an Emmy for Music Direction in 1982 for Night of 100 Stars, a 1988 Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement for Cleo Laine’s “No One is Alone,” and, finally, a 1997 Tony for Best Orchestrations for Titanic.

8. MEL BROOKS

Mel Brooks
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Yes, Mel Brooks can do it all. In June of 2001 he became the world’s eighth EGOT winner, just a few weeks shy of his 75th birthday, when he earned three Tony Awards—for Best Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Book of a Musical—for The Producers. It was The Producers that brought Brooks his Oscar as well, for Best Original Screenplay (albeit 33 years earlier). Brooks’s first award came in 1967, when he won the Emmy for writing The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris Special. Beginning in 1997, he won three consecutive Emmys, this time as a guest actor on the sitcom Mad About You. It was during that same period that he also won his first of three Grammys, in 1998 for Best Spoken Comedy Album for The 2000 Year Old Man in the Year 2000. In a 2013 NPR interview, Brooks mentioned this crowning achievement, saying, “I'm an EGOT, so I don't need any more [awards].”

9. MIKE NICHOLS

Mike Nichols
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Mike Nichols earned his EGOT in the same year as Mel Brooks, though it took him a full 40 years to get there (versus Brooks’s 34). The late comedian-turned-director’s path began with a 1961 Best Comedy Performance Grammy for An Evening With Mike Nichols And Elaine May. In 1964, he won his first of nine Tony Awards for Barefoot in the Park (his second came a year later for The Odd Couple). In 1967 he was named Best Director at the Oscars for The Graduate. And in 2001 he won his first two of four Emmys—for Outstanding Directing and Outstanding Made for Television Movie—for Wit.

10. WHOOPI GOLDBERG

Whoopi Goldberg
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If Philip Michael Thomas invented the idea of the EGOT, Tracy Morgan—as Tracy Jordan—brought the phrase back into popular use on 30 Rock, when he set the same goal and even wore the necklace. And they even got real-life EGOT winner Whoopi Goldberg to play along and poke fun at the debate over whether she should truly be included as her Emmy is a Daytime one. (“It still counts,” she told Tracy. “Girl’s gotta eat!”) Goldberg's first award was a 1985 Grammy for Best Comedy Recording of Whoopi Goldberg—Original Broadway Show Recording. Next came a 1990 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Ghost. In 2002 she got her E and T: an Emmy for hosting Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel and a Tony as co-producer of Thoroughly Modern Millie, which won Best Musical.

11. SCOTT RUDIN

Scott Rudin
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Scott Rudin is the first producer to EGOT. He earned his gold medallion in 2012 when The Book of Mormon: Original Broadway Cast Recording earned a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album (an award Rudin shares with fellow EGOT Robert Lopez). Rudin’s first award—an Emmy—came in 1984, for the kid’s show He Makes Me Feel Like Dancin’. He earned his first of 15 Tony Awards in 1994 for Passion, and his most recent in 2017 for Hello, Dolly!. While Rudin is probably best known as a film producer, he’s only got one Oscar to his credit, a 2007 Best Picture statue for the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men.

12. ROBERT LOPEZ

Robert Lopez
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In 2014, songwriter Robert Lopez became an EGOT when he and his wife, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, took home the Oscar for Best Original Song for Frozen’s “Let It Go.” (The pair won a second statuette earlier this year for the song "Remember Me" from Coco.) At the time, he was also the youngest member of the club (he's 43 years old now, but had just turned 39 when he was "inducted.") Lopez is also the fastest artist to achieve the honor, taking just 10 years to earn all four awards, beginning with a 2004 Tony Award for Best Score for Avenue Q, followed by two Daytime Emmys in 2008 and 2010 for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition for Wonder Pets. In 2012, Lopez and Rudin shared the Grammy for The Book of Mormon, making them the first pair of EGOTs to have a shared award get them into the circle.

13., 14., AND 15. ANDREW LLOYD WEBER, JOHN LEGEND, AND TIM RICE

 Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, John Legend and Tim Price pose in the press room during the 2018 Creative Arts Emmys at Microsoft Theater on September 9, 2018 in Los Angeles, California
Alberto E. Rodriguez, Getty Images

September 9, 2018 is a date that will go down in the history books of EGOT'ing, as the club added a total of three new members. Amazingly, it's for a shared award. Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert's Emmy win for Outstanding Variety Special (Live) made official EGOT members of all three of its producers—John Legend, Tim Rice, and Andrew Lloyd Weber. For Legend, the honor was even more monumental as he's both the youngest person to ever EGOT and the first black male to join the club.

(SH)EGOTS

Though the official number of EGOT winners is 12, it’s worth noting that there are a handful of other rather famous faces who have also earned all four awards ... but because at least one of them is a special or honorary award only—not a competitive one—their inclusion in the official club is questionable. Let’s call them SHEGOTs?

1. BARBRA STREISAND


Terry Fincher, Express/Getty Images

Amazingly, the only Tony Award that Barbra Steisand has on her mantel is a non-competitive one; in 1970, she was named Star of the Decade.

2. LIZA MINNELLI

Performer Liza Minnelli
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Liza Minnelli may have been handed a Grammy Legend Award in 1990—but this legend has no competitive Grammy to speak (or sing) of.

3. JAMES EARL JONES

James Earl Jones accepts the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre onstage during the 2017 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City
Theo Wargo, Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions

Though he's been a Hollywood icon for decades, James Earl Jones's only Oscar win was an honorary one in 2012. He did receive a Best Actor nomination in 1971 for The Great White Hope, but lost out to George C. Scott for Patton. (It's worth noting that Scott had alerted the Academy ahead of time that he refused the nomination, so it was hardly surprising that he wasn't there to accept the actual award.)

4. ALAN MENKEN

Johnny Mercer Award Honoree Alan Menken performs onstage at the Songwriters Hall Of Fame 48th Annual Induction and Awards at New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on June 15, 2017 in New York City
Larry Busacca, Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of Fame

Composer/songwriter Alan Menken won the Tony for Best Original Score for the Broadway version of Newsies in 2012, but his 1990 Emmy for his contribution to "Wonderful Ways to Say No," an anti-drug cartoon special, was an honorary one—leaving him one official award short of an EGOT.

5. HARRY BELAFONTE

Harry Belafonte attends the 2016 Library Lions Gala at New York Public Library - Stephen A Schwartzman Building on November 7, 2016 in New York City
Theo Wargo, Getty Images

In 2014, Harry Belafonte was awarded the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award—putting him in the elite class of a half-dozen (SH)EGOTs.

6. QUINCY JONES

Music producer Quincy Jones attends Spotify's Inaugural Secret Genius Awards hosted by Lizzo at Vibiana on November 1, 2017 in Los Angeles, California
Matt Winkelmeyer, Getty Images for Spotify

Music producer Quincy Jones may be one of the world's most award-winning artists, but a competitive Oscar has so far eluded him. Like Belafonte, the only Academy Award he has won is the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (which he received in 1994). Beyond that, he is a seven-time Oscar nominee.

ALMOST EGOTS

While there are are a number of artists who came close to EGOT'ing during their lifetimes—including Robin Williams (who was short a Tony), Jessica Tandy (she was missing a Grammy), Henry Fonda (who was minus an Emmy), and Leonard Bernstein (who never won an Oscar)—the EGOT dream is still alive for dozens of artists.

1. JULIE ANDREWS

It's hard to believe that Julie Andrews has yet to win a Tony Award (though she's been nominated for three). If and when she does, she can add EGOT to her resume.

2. LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA

The Hamilton creator came so close to EGOT'ing last year. But something tells us it won't be long before he's inducted into this elite group of artists.

3. MARTIN SCORSESE

He may be one of the world's most acclaimed filmmakers, but it took him more than a quarter-century to earn his first (and so far only) Oscar. Hopefully a Tony will be next.

4. FRANCES MCDORMAND

Just below the EGOT, there's what is known as the Triple Crown of Acting: a performer who has won an Oscar, Emmy, and a Tony (but is missing a Grammy). Frances McDormand is among that group.

5. VIOLA DAVIS

Like McDormand, Viola Davis is part of the Triple Crown club.

6. RANDY NEWMAN

It took 20 years and 16 nominations, but Randy Newman finally became an Oscar winner in 2002 when he won the award for Best Original Song for "If I Didn't Have You" from Monsters, Inc. He still needs a Tony though.

7. AL PACINO

He's one of the most celebrated actors alive, but Al Pacino is no Grammy winner.

8. JOHN WILLIAMS

The iconic composer may hold the record for the most Oscar nominations for a living person, but John Williams has yet to receive a single Tony Award nomination.

9. CHER

The iconic singer is one Tony Award short of an EGOT.

10. ELTON JOHN

The "Rocket Man" singer is one Emmy Award away from an EGOT.

11. AND 12. RON HOWARD AND BRIAN GRAZER

Longtime producing partners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer have seemingly conquered every medium, but neither one has yet won a Tony (though Grazer has come closer; he was nominated in 2008).

13. AND 14. TREY PARKER AND MATT STONE

The South Park creators are just an Oscar short of the EGOT goalpost.

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20 Crafty Facts About Beastie Boys

L to R: Beastie Boys Ad-Rock (Adam Horowitz), MCA (Adam Yauch), and Mike D (Michael Diamond) pose in Portugal 1998.
L to R: Beastie Boys Ad-Rock (Adam Horowitz), MCA (Adam Yauch), and Mike D (Michael Diamond) pose in Portugal 1998.
Martyn Goodacre/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When a group has been around as long as Beastie Boys—particularly a band that has made such an indelible impact on popular music—every person’s connection to them is likely to be very different, and very specific. I wasn’t a huge fan of Licensed To Ill (1986) as a kid and missed the Paul’s Boutique (1989) heyday by just a few years, so my first strong memory of them was navigating Check Your Head while my parents succumbed to Parental Advisory paranoia and confiscated the CD to “protect me” from the band's corrupting influence. But it was too late. By the time mom and dad started fretting over the trio’s infrequent, and innocuous, f-bombs, I had already become a diehard fan, infected (like so many others) by their uniquely intoxicating combination of rap, funk, and punk that wasn’t just fun and exciting to listen to but self-referential, self-reflective, and actively inspiring.

Of course, they also had bars and absolute bangers. (“Intergalactic” will always and forever leave a smoldering crater on any dance floor.) But after disbanding in 2012 following the untimely death of Adam "MCA" Yauch from parotid cancer, remaining members Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz and Michael "Mike D" Diamond have spent the past few years reflecting on their experiences as a group—first with the exceptional Beastie Boys Book, and then with the Spike Jonze-directed Beastie Boys Story, a kinda-sorta live recitation/performance of key moments from their career. Between those two projects, they offered some intimate and unprecedented insights into the journey the three of them went on to become one of the most important and influential hip-hop bands in the history of the genre.

1. Beastie Boys originally wasn’t just a name, it was an acronym.

Beastie Boys formed in New York City in 1981 as a hardcore punk band. The name stood for “Boys Entering Anarchistic States Towards Inner Excellence,” which made no sense with a second “Boys” tacked on at the end. (They subsequently admitted that the acronym was invented after coming up with the name.) It also was immediately inaccurate, since the founding members included Adam Yauch, Michael Diamond, John Berry, and their female drummer Kate Schellenbach.

2. Beastie Boys’s first hip-hop single was basically a prank call set to music.

Released in 1983, “Cooky Puss” marked the first appearance of Adam Horovitz on a Beastie Boys recording. The single became an underground hit in New York City clubs, earning them minor renown and establishing a path incorporating hip-hop into their sets.

3. A lawsuit earned Beastie Boys their first real money as musicians.

“Beastie Revolution” the B-side of "Cooky Puss," earned Beastie Boys their first real income as a group when British Airways sampled the song in a television ad without the band's permission. A lawyer successfully sued the airline for $40,000, which was enough for the band to rent an apartment together in Manhattan's Chinatown, which they used as both living and recording space.

4. There’s a good chance you’ve never heard "Rock Hard," Beastie Boys’s first single as a full-fledged rap group.

After hiring NYU student and future Def Jam Records co-founder Rick Rubin as their DJ—based purely on his dorm room speaker set-up, which included a bubble machine—Beastie Boys began recording rap music in earnest, inspired by early genre luminaries like the Funky 4 + 1. In addition to dropping Schellenbach as their drummer—an insensitive decision the band later regretted—the guys yielded to Rubin’s expertise as a producer with just one other single (T La Rock’s “It’s Yours”) under his belt.

For “Rock Hard,” Rubin sampled AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” which was subsequently withdrawn because they hadn’t sought permission. Decades later, the Beasties appealed directly to Angus Young for the rights to sample the song to add to their 1999 compilation The Sounds Of Science, but Young again refused.

5. Beastie Boys got into trouble on more than one occasion with their music sampling.

“Rock Hard” marked the first—but certainly not the last—time Beastie Boys ran into trouble with sampling. (More on this later.) But during the same period, they recorded the song “I’m Down,” which featured a Beatles sample, but given Michael Jackson’s ownership of the Fab Four’s catalog, they were similarly rebuffed. (A single featuring “I’m Down” and “Drum Machine,” a track credited to “MCA & Burzootie,” was unofficially released in 2007.)

6. Beastie Boys opened for Madonna during 1985's "The Virgin Tour."

Beastie Boys at the West 42nd Street subway station in Times Square in 1986.
Beastie Boys at the West 42nd Street subway station in Times Square in 1986.
Michel Delsol/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Beastie Boys became tour mates with the Queen of Pop after her manager contacted Def Jam Records looking for Run-D.M.C. to open for her Virgin Tour. Run-D.M.C. charged too much. After label chief Russell Simmons told Madonna’s management that their second choice, The Fat Boys, were unavailable (even though Simmons never managed the Fat Boys), he volunteered Beastie Boys for the sum of $500 per week. They spent most of that time antagonizing Madonna’s teenage fan base with raucous, sophomoric stage hijinks, while recording the final tracks on their debut album, Licensed to Ill.

7. Licensed to Ill became Beastie Boys's calling card—and, almost as quickly, an albatross around the band's neck.

With Licensed to Ill, Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin wanted to capitalize on the novelty of a full-length rap album by one of the few (if only) white performers in the genre. To create it, Beastie Boys threw themselves into a misogynistic, lunk-headed frat boy perspective they initially targeted for ridicule, not celebration. But “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” became an anthem for exactly the kind of people they were trying to make fun of, and their subsequent 1987 tour was heavily populated by exactly those kinds of drunken louts. A stage set-up featuring a giant inflatable penis and go-go cages filled with girls also didn’t dissuade critics from thinking they endorsed the lifestyle chronicled on their record. By the time they realized how far they had strayed from their satirical intentions, Beastie Boys had become worldwide rock stars.

8. Beastie Boys broke up after Licensed to Ill—but they didn’t know it.

Disillusioned by their own success with a record they’d come to dislike, the band was slow to begin recording a follow-up for Def Jam—especially after they realized they allegedly hadn’t earned any money at all from it, despite selling what would add up to more than 9 million copies over the next three and a half decades. Simmons claimed they breached their contract to record new music even though he had encouraged them to keep touring, which in turn kept them from recording new material. After the end of their final Licensed to Ill-related tour dates, the Boys went their separate ways, thinking it was just a break. But after they reconnected at the beginning of the recording process for Paul’s Boutique, Yauch told Diamond and Horovitz that he’d actually quit the band temporarily without telling them.

9. Adam Horovitz attempted to launch an acting career.

During the time after Licensed to Ill, Horovitz moved to Los Angeles and attempted to embark on an acting career (not counting his performances as a member of Beastie Boys in Krush Groove and the Run-D.M.C. vehicle Tougher Than Leather). He co-starred opposite Donald Sutherland and Amy Locane in the now-lost Lost Angels. In 2015, Horovitz told GQ that he hadn't seen the film since it screened at Cannes in 1989—and had no interest in seeing it again. He hasn't given up on acting entirely; he has taken on small roles in the intervening years, including a part in Noah Baumbach's While We're Young (2014).

10. Beastie Boys expected Paul’s Boutique to be their comeback. It wasn’t.

One very positive thing did come out of the time Horovitz spent in Los Angeles: He invited Diamond and Yauch to visit, and the three of them met Mike Simpson and John King, hip-hop producers for the Delicious Vinyl record label who employed computers for pioneering sampling techniques. The trio immediately fell in love with their sound and hired them to create the musical backdrop for Paul's Boutique, their 1989 follow-up to Licensed to Ill.

Contrary to popular belief, clearing all 105 samples used on the album (including 24 on the final track “B-Boy Bouillabaisse”) was relatively easy. But even if they were thrilled by the dense sonic tapestry that accompanied their evolving lyrics, fans weren’t immediately taken by the record. Opinion has changed over time though; today, Paul's Boutique is considered a masterpiece—both as a musical endeavor and a technical marvel.

11. Check Your Head catapulted Beastie Boys back to the top of the charts—and inspired a new creative freedom.

Prior to Paul’s Boutique, Beastie Boys signed a multi-album contract with Capitol Records. So even when their comeback fizzled, Capitol was obligated to give them money for another record. They used their advance to create G-Son Studios in the then-sleepy Los Angeles neighborhood of Atwater Village, where they not only had equipment and record space but a basketball hoop and a skateboarding half pipe.

Though they played on their earliest recordings, they really learned—and in many cases, taught themselves—to play the instruments on Check Your Head. The various influences of their adolescence, from hip-hop to punk to funk, pushed them to experiment and combine these sounds into what became a watershed moment for rap and rock reaching tenuous harmony.

12. Beastie Boys's creative endeavors during their time in Los Angeles weren’t only musical.

Mike Diamond, Adam Yauch and Adam Horovitz in 1993 from an archival photo used in “Beastie Boys Story,”
Mike Diamond, Adam Yauch, and Adam Horovitz circa 1993 in a still from Apple TV+'s Beastie Boys Story (2020).
Apple TV+

Around the same time they were recording Check Your Head, Beastie Boys created Grand Royal, a record label that allowed them to release music by artists they liked—starting with Luscious Jackson, an all-female rock/rap band featuring their former drummer Kate Schellenbach.

Over the next decade, they created Grand Royal Magazine, where they evidently officially coined the term mullet; launched the clothing label X-Large (whose name makes it really difficult to find vintage articles on eBay); and founded the New York-based publicity firm Nasty Little Man. After the release of Ill Communication, Yauch mounted the two-day Tibetan Freedom Concert, the biggest benefit concert since 1985’s Live Aid.

13. Beastie Boys helped usher in the Internet era for their fans (or at least people who went to their shows).

In the early 1990s, a computer programmer named Ian Rogers created a website (on the pre-World Wide Web) to answer questions and explore trivia about Beastie Boys. Within a few years, his little FAQ site became the definitive resource for all things related to the band. After launching Grand Royal Magazine, the band decided to make the out-of-print first issue available for free online and reached out to Rogers to have him help them.

Rogers initially turned them (and the money their label offered) down. But the Beasties persisted, and soon enough, he had created an official site where the band could publish information and updates—you know, all the stuff that every band does now. During their tour in 1995, Beastie Boys handed out floppy disks to ticket buyers (a decision they came to regret because people would throw them on stage during their performances). But their forward-thinking efforts to preserve their own legacy would become the standard for anyone creating their identity on the net for decades to come.

14. Spike Jonze directed "Sabotage," which is regularly cited as one of the best music videos of all-time.

Mike Diamond, Spike Jonze and Adam Yauch prepare for the “Sabotage” music video in a scene from “Beastie Boys Story,”
Mike Diamond, Spike Jonze, and Adam Yauch prepare to shoot the “Sabotage” music video in a scene from Apple TV+'s Beastie Boys Story.
Apple TV+

In 1994, Oscar-winning filmmaker—and frequent Beastie Boys collaborator—Spike Jonze directed the video for "Sabotage." The video, an anarchic parody of ‘70s cops shows that perfectly complemented the song’s energy, was shot around Los Angeles with no permits. “[W]e just ran around L.A. without any permits and made everything up as we went along,” Yauch told New York Magazine. Even today, more than 25 years after its original debut, "Sabotage" is regularly cited as one of the greatest music videos ever made.

15. Several Beastie Boys videos were directed by Nathanial Hörnblowér, Adam Yauch's alter ego.

Sabotage” marked a transition point for the band as they regained the success they had during their Licensed to Ill days, except on their own terms. The music video cemented their superstardom and brought Yauch's alter ego, Nathanial Hörnblowér, into the spotlight. When "Sabotage" lost the award for Best Direction to R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" at the 1994 MTV Music Video Awards, Hörnblowér stormed the stage to express his outrage (as a very confused Michael Stipe looked on). The official story is that Hörnblowér is Yauch's uncle from Switzerland. The real story is that Hörnblowér is a pseudonym for Yauch which he first enlisted on Paul’s Boutique (he created the cover art).

16. According to the band, Hello Nasty is Beastie Boys's best album.

If Check Your Head and Ill Communication felt like two parts of the same creative workflow, 1998's Hello Nasty—which is named for how the phone was answered at Beastie Boys's New York-based PR firm—marked the full realization of the band's independence and imagination. Long, weird, and fearless, the album effortlessly shuffles from booming dance floor fillers to introspective instrumentals, feeling entirely unrestrained and free for the first time. "Hello Nasty is our best record," Ad-Rock wrote in Beastie Boys Book then included a list of all the reasons why, including the fact that: “It has the song 'Intergalactic,' and that song is the f***in’ jam, right?!”

17. According to the band, To The 5 Boroughs is not their best album.

To the 5 Boroughs, Beastie Boys's follow-up to the Grammy Award-winning Hello Nasty, arrived in 2004, and it arrived with both some counterproductive restrictions and some heavy personal baggage. A planned tour with Rage Against the Machine was canceled after Mike D broke his collarbone in a bike accident, and by the time he healed, Rage had broken up. A year or more ensued with the Boys just living life, growing up, engaging in more ordinary adult activities. 9/11 and the cultural fallout affected the recording of the album, right down to the title, but Yauch initiated the process of recording insisting that the album be all rap—meaning no instrumentals or digressions like they’d done in the past.

“A good path to creating something mediocre is having rigid rules for what you’re making,” Horovitz wrote in Beastie Boys Book. The combination of these “rules,” and an effort to make something more “serious” and politically-minded, might have hobbled what remains a record with some amazing moments but nothing fully coherent.

18. Hot Sauce Committee was originally named for Elvis Presley's driver.

Rebounding from To The 5 Boroughs, Beastie Boys decided to swing in the opposite direction for their next album and record an album of all instrumentals. The result was The Mix-Up, which they toured while wearing suits like an old-school funk band. Moving forward after that album, which netted them a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album, they started work on a follow-up, a two-part opus that would bring their eclectic style full circle one more time. Though it became known as Hot Sauce Committee, one prospective title was Tadlock’s Glasses, which referred to Tadlock, one of their tour bus drivers, who worked for Elvis Presley. Presley gifted Tadlock a pair of gold-framed glasses that became a prized possession.

19. It will be tough for crate diggers to find the original albums that went into Hot Sauce Committee.

Hot Sauce Committee was conceived as a collage of samples from records that didn’t exist, which meant they would play instrumentals in different styles, then cut them up in a computer and combine them to feel like samples—even though the original “sources” didn’t actually exist. (In Beastie Boys Book, you can see some of the fictional albums they sampled, as they created fictional artists and titles and even designed cover images.) Ultimately, only Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2 came out, because the band actually lost the recordings for Pt. 1 on a train. (If anyone finds it, let us know!)

20. There’s a reason you haven’t heard Beastie Boys’s music more since 2012—and it’s not (just) because they disbanded.

Beastie Boys Mike D (left) and Adam Yauch leaving their hotel in London in 1987.
Beastie Boys Mike D (left) and Adam Yauch leaving their hotel in London in 1987.
Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Following Adam Yauch's death on May 4, 2012, the band effectively disbanded. (There is evidently some music recorded in 2011 that may one day see the light of day, but nothing yet.) Yauch’s will expressly forbid the use of any Beastie Boys music in advertising of any kind, in perpetuity. What this means is that companies cannot use a Beastie Boys song in their commercials.

Ad-Rock and Mike D have continued to record and produce music in the years since Yauch's passing, but they honor his legacy and their longtime partnership by refusing to ever perform again as Beastie Boys without him.