Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch, in trademark leather jacket, with David Sparks, center, and co-director Adam Dubin on the set of the “Fight for Your Right” video. (Sunny Bak)

They were no-good punks and certainly not meant to last. The Beastie Boys? Even Oprah snickered. But in 1987, Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “MCA” Yauch and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz were MTV kings. Their brat-rap creation “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)” stormed the charts early that winter, eventually cracking the top 10. Thirty years later, we can celebrate the Beasties for bringing hip-hop to the mainstream without selling out. And sorry, Tipper, they actually did have staying power. Only Yauch’s death in 2012 could shut it down.

The “Fight for Your Right” video, inspired by “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and the Three Stooges, was key. Directed by Beasties producer Rick Rubin’s mentor Ric Menello and his onetime college roomie Adam Dubin, the frat-rock spoof featured pie-throwing, guitar-smashing and cameos from a teenage LL Cool J, pre-MTV Tabitha Soren and Rubin himself. Menello died in 2013. Dubin found the original storyboards for the video when he was cleaning out his parents’ house a few months ago. Now 53 and a director, he spoke with us about the making of “Fight for Your Right.”

Storyboard 1

“Menello and I wanted to start with a pre-music sequence. This was a popular music-video thing at the time, and many comic music videos did it. One of our favorite was the pre-video sequence in Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” music video, which sets up the nerd character Waldo on his way to school. MTV frowned on these video opening sequences because they ate up airtime and extended the videos. So it was one thing for Van Halen to do it because Van Halen was a mega-platinum band at the time. It was quite another thing for an unheard-of band of NYC kids to put an opening sequence on their music video. We were advised not to put the sequence on the front. But Rick Rubin supported the idea, and Rick probably felt that if Van Halen could do it then so could the Beastie Boys, end of story.”


(Adam Dubin)

(Adam Dubin)

Storyboard 2

“We had no actors for the video. We had no money. All we had were the people that were good enough to show up on the days that we were filming. So for the mother and father we used Ric Menello’s parents, who were by then too old to have teenaged kids — they were more like grandparents. But they worked out fine mainly because it just seemed funnier that the parents were so old and therefore out of touch with what the kids were doing. Menello’s parents, Lucille and Richard, were about the sweetest people that you could imagine. The entire band, crew and cast fell in love with them right away. In the final shot where the parents come home and the mother, Lucille, gets a pie in the face, no one had the heart to hit her with a pie. In the end, Menello slowly pushed the pie into his mother’s face for the last shot of the video.”


(Adam Dubin)

Storyboard 6

“This is the first shot of the Beastie Boys. By conventional wisdom, we should have started the music video with a shot of this unknown group. But we didn’t. They start here, a full 30 seconds into the video. And everything that they are wearing was about to become iconic, from Ad-Rock’s ‘Stuyvesant Leader’ T-shirt to MCA’s leather jacket to Mike D’s VW emblem and black hat. The whole look was B-boy mixed with street punk and about to be imitated by millions of kids around the world.”


(Adam Dubin)

Storyboard 26

“This brilliant shot was choreographed by Ric Menello. MCA and Ad-Rock are on the couch singing the chorus when Mike D chases a girl from the previous scene across the couch and Mike D lands in time to finish the chorus with the group. I’ve always credited Menello with this masterpiece, and in my opinion it is the most iconic and memorable shot from the whole video. And as can be seen from the storyboards, Menello envisioned this scene from the beginning.”


(Adam Dubin)

Storyboard 32

“For the goofy guitar solo, Menello and I knew that we didn’t want to do anything even close to the actual solo. We wanted to have as much destruction as our tiny budget could afford, and smashing a guitar is a pretty rock-and-roll staple. It’s also funny. And in this case it was a homage to the famous scene in ‘Animal House’ where John Belushi smashes an acoustic guitar. In this shot, the nerd Alvin is playing an acoustic guitar and MCA enters the frame. MCA was always up for smashing stuff. He volunteered for it and the other guys just let him. I bought one cheap guitar at a secondhand store. There was no second guitar. If the gag didn’t work then it didn’t work.”


(Adam Dubin)

Storyboard 37

“Menello and I wanted to do a pie hitting someone in slow motion even though filming in slow motion eats up film at an alarming rate. But still, we figured it was too cool not to try it. Once again, MCA rose to the occasion and wanted to do his pie hit in slo-mo. So we set up against the red background that we had used for the beginning shot of the Beastie Boys. Once again, this was a one-shot deal. It had to work because we didn’t have the time to clean MCA up and do it again and use more film. We set the shot, rolled film and hit MCA with a pie from very close range. The effect worked well. What was really a nice bit of cinema is that we tied the gag back to the earlier gag where Albert has been pulled into the bathroom and presumably molested by the two punk girls. MCA wipes his pie-covered face off on Albert’s shirt as Ad-Rock delivers the next line. Again, this shot had to fit exactly in this place in the video and no place else. This video was made like a movie, not a music video. If the shot didn’t work, we didn’t have filler. The story would suffer.”


(Adam Dubin)

Storyboard 41

“Once again, Menello and I didn’t want to do the literal thing and have the mom come in as the lyric says. And also because the mom is supposed to come home at the end of the video, so we figured that if this was a loud party, a grouchy neighbor would come in. Ric Menello himself played the part of the fat guy. He walks in and I can see by the leather jacket on the arm that Rick Rubin himself threw the pie into Menello’s face. Menello wanted to play the part because it was reminiscent of the role of Sid Fields, the landlord on ‘The Abbott And Costello Show,’ which was an influence here and definitely a favorite of Menello, Rubin, myself and the Beastie Boys.”