PeaceJam founders on the time they helped Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys get an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the '90s

Categories: Music News

Courtesy of PeaceJam
Ivan Suvanjieff (from left), Erin Potts of Milarepa, Dawn Engle, Adam Yauch and Ian Rogers.
While we've been mourning the untimely passing of Adam Yauch (aka MCA) of the Beastie Boys last week and reminiscing about the act's shows in Denver, we've learned that the musician/activist had pretty interesting ties to our city beyond playing here nearly a dozen times over the past two decades. Before organizing his own Tibetan Freedom concerts, Yauch worked with PeaceJam co-founders Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff on the nascent version of their organization in the mid-'90s, and the pair helped arrange for Yauch to get an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama an event that had a profound impact on the musician. Yesterday, the couple took some time away from their latest film project, Mayan Renaissance (slated to premiere next week in New York), to talk about their time working with Yauch.

Ivan Suvanjieff recalls his first meeting with Adam Yauch

This was around the time that we came up with the idea of PeaceJam. I was with Dawn Gifford Engle, my wife and co-founder. We were thinking, yeah, this could easily have a music component to it. Peace and Jam, right? So I read somewhere in some magazine, maybe Spin or something -- this was back in '94 -- that [Adam] Yauch had done some Buddhist research and all the rest of it. So I thought, "Well, I'll go to this guy first."

So I called Gold Mountain [Entertainment] and got ahold of John Cutcliffe, a guy they called JC; I don't know if he works there anymore. But he invited us out to San Diego for a Lollapalooza, and we met Yauch backstage there, and talked to him about it. He had just jumped out of the swimming pool. He had just gotten off stage and went directly to the swimming pool that was attached to the gymnasium. So he came out in some sort of weird pair of underwear, soaking wet, and Billy Corgan was there playing basketball, shooting hoops. So that was the setup. We talked to him, and he sounded interested. So we got together and talked some more.

Dawn Engle picks up the story from here:

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Holly Brown
Holly Brown

Great story!  Adam Yauch sounds like a very cool guy...what a loss!


Adam could have just as easily taken the F train to Borough Park to meet the Rebbe instead of some fakakta trip to India.  Oi vey! 

honey badger
honey badger

This is awesome! I had no idea that PeaceJam worked with the Beastie Boys -- I only knew they were connected with the Flobots. Super cool!

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