Beastie Boys rapper Adam Yauch has died at the age of 47 after a long fight against cancer.
The hip-hop star had been battling a cancerous parotid gland since 2009.
His death was confirmed on the Beastie Boys' website .
They said in a statement: "It is with great sadness that we confirm that musician, rapper, activist and director Adam "MCA" Yauch, founding member of Beastie Boys... passed away in his native New York City this morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer."
On hearing the news stars of music, film and sport paid tribute to the rapper and activist on Twitter.
Yauch underwent surgery and radiation treatment but his illness caused the group to cancel shows and delayed the release of its 2011 album, "Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2."
He was conspicuous by his absence when the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April.
News of the star's death was broken by mentor Russell Simmons whose Def Jam label released the Beastie Boys' first album, "Licensed to Ill."
Yauch, also known as "MCA", co-founded the Beastie Boys with Mike "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horowitz in 1979.
They were initially dismissed as three white, middle-class beer-swilling frat boys following the release in 1986 of "License To Ill," which featured songs like "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)".
But their follow-up, "Paul's Boutique," was acclaimed by critics and brought the Beasties credibility in the black hip-hop community.
Their other albums included "Check Your Head and "Hello Nasty."
Yauch is survived by his wife Dechen and daughter Tenzin Losel, as well as his parents Frances and Noel Yauch.