Two months before he passed away, Beastie Boy Adam Yauch paid tribute to one of his favorite pastimes: skateboarding. At the request of skate legend Bucky Lasek, Yauch – an avid skater since he was in high school – wrote out the lyrics to the Beasties’ “Bodhisattva Vow” across three separate decks. The boards, each signed and dated “Adam Yauch March 15, 2012,” will be auctioned online on November 29th as part of a charity project from the Tony Hawk Foundation.
At the instigation of Ben Harper, another longtime skate fan, rockers including Paul McCartney and Tom Petty were approached for the auction to write out the words to their songs on pros’ used decks. McCartney chose “Blackbird,” Petty did the same with “I Won’t Back Down,” and Harper scribbled the lyrics to “God Fearing Man” and “Burn One Down” on two separate decks. Money raised from the auction will go toward funding skateparks in low-income communities. More rockers, including Elton John, are expected to participate.
According to Miki Vuckovich, executive director of the Hawk Foundation, few were aware that Yauch was in the final stages of his fight with cancer when they reached out to him. “When Ben approached Adam about participating, he had no idea what condition Adam was in,” says Vuckovich. “If he did, he wouldn’t have asked. Understanding that Adam had been in treatment, he was careful to invite him to participate with no expectation that he would. But Adam responded immediately, and enthusiastically.” The Yauch auction will benefit an as-yet-unspecified skatepark in New York City, Yauch’s hometown.
For his own old board, Hawk himself chose McCartney. “I decided I’m going for broke and get a Beatle,” he says. “I thought, ‘If I’m going to do this, I’m going for the top.'” To his surprise, McCartney agreed. “He told me his grandson skates and he tried doing it with him fairly recently – and decided he should not be doing that,” Hawk says.
Hawk, whose first-ever album purchase was the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper‘s Lonely Hearts Club Band, says he was hoping McCartney would have picked “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” or “A Day in the Life,” his favorite tracks from that record. But he’s not complaining about “Blackbird.”
“That was fine with me,” he says with a laugh. “What was I going to say – send it back and say, ‘Rejected’?”