Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Beastie Boys' Rare 1985 single "Rock Hard"

In the beginning, the Beastie Boys didn't rap, instead they played in a punk band with Kate Schellenbach, who would go on to be the drummer in the band Luscious Jackson. Here is an interesting three song set they played for the Scott & Gary Show on a public access cable in New York.

The Beastie Boys changed direction, much to the chagrin of these two guys below, and in 1985 with producer Rick Rubin, they put out a 45 locally for the song "Rock Hard." The Beasties rapped over a sample of AC/DC's "Back in Black" riff, leading to this single becoming very rare. This is quite the awesome video by Anna Hrnjak, it needs to be said.

Here's an mp3 of the full song:

The Beastie Boys - Rock Hard (1985 single)

The band tried their best to include this song on their 1999 compilation "The Sound of Science" but AC/DC wouldn't allow it. This is summed up in an article from the 11/11/99 issue of New Musical Express:

“We originally had ‘Rock Hard’ on there because it was never widely available,” Mike D told NME. “So we had to go back to AC/DC for sample clearance. Their lawyer said no, so I decided to call them myself.“

“So I tracked AC/DC down in the studio in Vancouver and talked to Malcolm (Young, brother of Angus). And they were just not having it. He goes, ‘I’d love to do it for you guys, but it’s ‘Back In Black’ - one of the top three songs we’ve ever written!’ Whatever. AC/DC could not get with the sample concept. They were just like, ‘Nothing against you guys, but we just don’t endorse sampling.’”

Adrock: “So we told them that we don’t endorse people playing guitars.”

‘Rock Hard’ has been replaced by ‘She’s On It’ which the Beasties describe as “not one of our top three songs.”

The Beastie Boys returned this week after a hiatus while Adam Yauch underwent successful cancer treatment with the tremendous album "Hot Sauce Committee Part Two." Even better is the 30 minute video for "Fight For Your Right Revisited" which was written, produced, and directed by Yauch and features a ton of great actors. It's a lot of fun to watch this and the original video from 25 years ago back to back, since the one leads right into the other.

Buy "Hot Sauce Commitee Part Two" by the Beastie Boys at


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