When the Beastie Boys Lived at 59 Chrystie
Today in music reminiscence, we talk about the onetime residence of the Beastie Boys at 59 Chrystie Street. It all happened thanks to British Airways, oddly enough.
The transatlantic airline company lifted a snippet of “Beastie Revolution” for use in a television ad campaign in 1983. It was done without properly licensing the track, which appeared on the second EP dubbed Cookie Puss. The copyright infringement case was a success, netting the band $40,000 in damages, which enabled the rental of 59 Chrystie Street. This Chinatown abode would function as home, recording studio, and party palace during the formative years when the transition from punk to hip-hop was forged.
The King Ad Rock, MCA, and Mike D collectively remembered their time at 59 Chrystie during a Spin Magazine interview in 1998. Here are the pertinent snippets:
Mike D: That money enabled us to make the move for independence. We got a floor in this Chinese Sweatshop building on Chrystie Street [on the lower East Side of Manhattan].
MCA: The floor was blacktop. Somebody had actually rolled tar across it, like the street. One time we were hanging out in the living room and we heard this really loud explosion in the kitchen. Our toaster oven had a hole in the top and a hole in the back. There was a hole in the wall behind it and a hole in the ceiling. Apparently, somebody upstairs fired a gun through the floor. We ran up there and there was nobody in the room but this old woman. We were like, “What happened?” and she didn’t speak English. You know some crazy shit had just happened in that sweatshop and they had quickly covered it up. Dragged the body out.
The Beastie Boys, recently inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, gave a shout-out to 59 Chrystie Street in their song “B-Boy Bouillabaisse,” which closed out the seminal 1989 record Paul’s Boutique.