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Ricky Powell
Ricky Powell


Ricky Powell Obit from New York Times


Ricky Powell

"Life is just a bunch of errands, off of a checklist." Those are the words of photojournalist Ricky Powell, who since 1985 has been a constant fixture within the Beastie Boys inner circle. Through video and photos, Ricky Powell has documented tour after tour for the Beastie Boys. The scope of Ricky's impact is not limited to Beastie Boys fans though. His influence is far reaching within the rap music community. Through his books and features in publications like Ego Trip and Grand Royal Magazine, Ricky Powell has put the feel of hip-hop into print and communicated what it was like to be in the eye of the tornado while it was happening.

The best documentation of how Ricky Powell and the Beastie Boys first got together was an interview that fellow Beastie Boys insider Evan Bernard conducted for Popsmear.com. "I just started hanging with them (1985). They asked me if I wanted to come along on these road trips to Boston or Philly or whatnot. I brought my camera along and documented it and they blew up and that opened up some avenues for me, helped me get access to certain rap dudes that were big at that time who they were down with. I used to go up to the Apollo and shoot on my own. It was just unbelievable. This was right after I graduated college (Hunter College). Well, actually 1985 I graduated."

Long before the Beastie Boys were performing as rap artists, Ricky had ties to Adam Horovitz through his sister Rachael. "...I didn't grow up with her, but she was in my fourth grade class. She was a little cutie pie. Our school, PS 41, was like a hangout after three o'clock. They used to leave the gates open. So a lot of kids used to hang there, adults playing tennis against the walls, a big hangout. He's (Adrock) five years younger than me, but I used to see him when he was a little skate rat. He was always a cool kid. Always nice, respectable. I was just one of those older dudes you would see around. I don't know if he looked up to me. But he would always stop by on the street."

Later on following Madonna's Virgin tour Ricky would eventually met up again with the other band members and everything clicked into place. "I don't really remember meeting Mike or Yauch for the first time, I might have just went backstage at the Cat Club, that first gig I saw of theirs. But we just hit it right off, I don't know. It was just one of those things, I was into what they were into and they did their own thing and they just blew up."

Ricky never limited himself to just print, he went multimedia with the very popular "Rappin' With the Rickster" Manhattan cable access show. To this day Beastie Boys fans are still trading high generation VHS copies of Ricky's tour exploits captured on videotape. If you have never had the pleasure of watching them, Powell's cable access shows often-incorporated segments of old basketball and football games. So when Ricky Powell appeared in an advertisement for ESPN's Classic Sports Network, no one seemed surprised. In addition to the television show, Powell also did a three hour radio broadcast every Saturday on WKCR (FM 89.9).

Having realized that the internet was the only uncharted area left, Ricky has now taken his game online. Rickypowell.com provides people with additional biographical content as well as contact information. If you have not already visited his website, take the opportunity now to do so.

Erin Potts Prince Paul