Ric Menello Dead, Beastie Boys Video Director Dies at 60
Menello was one of the pioneering visionaries during the rise of commercial hip-hop in the 1980s. His first major break in rap music video directing came when he met the Beastie Boys and Def Jam co-founder Rick Rubin while working as a desk clerk at Rubin’s NYU dorm.
“Those guys would hang out at the front desk watching movies with him and as Rick started bands and the label … Menello was along for the ride,” said writer Dan Charnas, who extensively interviewed Menello for his book ‘The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop.’ “But more importantly, as all this stuff is starting, Menello helps to form Rick’s aesthetic. Rick knows what he likes, but it takes Menello to help Rick understand it.”
Rubin recruited Menello to co-direct ‘(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)’ with the label exec’s roommate at the time, Adam Dubin. “It was kind of a dumb video, but it was done in a very sophisticated way visually. I often say the style of the video is ‘stupidity done in an intelligent way,'” Menello later told MTV, surprised at the longtime success of the visuals.
After the success of that video, they went on to collaborate on the Beasties’ ‘No Sleep Till Brooklyn’ and LL Cool J‘s ‘Going Back to Cali.’
Not only did he direct, Menello also wrote the screenplay for 2008’s ‘Two Lovers,’ starring Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow, as well as Phoenix’s other project, ‘Lowlife,’ and Run-DMC‘s ‘Tougher Than Leather.’
A memorial service is to be held today (March 5).
Watch Beastie Boys’ ‘(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)’ Video