The renowned musician, human rights activist and filmmaker has died in New York City (May 4) following a three-year struggle with cancer. He was 47.

Brooklyn-born Yauch taught himself to play bass guitar as a child and at the age of 17 formed the band that would become known the world over as Beastie Boys.

The band went on to achieve worldwide acclaim, Yauch assuming the identity of Adam “MCA” Yauch alongside Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Adrock” Horovitz. They created four number one albums and sold more than 40m records. Yauch directed the band’s videos under the typically playful pseudonym Nathanial Hörnblowér.

Last month The Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, although by that time Yauch was too ill to attend the ceremony.

Along with David Fenkel he formed Oscilloscope Laboratories four years ago. In 2008 the production and distribution label released his directorial debut, the basketball documentary Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot.

Subsequent releases in a widely admired pipeline have included Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy, Oren Moverman’s The Messenger, Banksy’s Exit Through The Gift Shop and Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze’s Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait Of Maurice Sendak.

A statement from his Oscilloscope Laboratories colleagues Dan Berger, Fenkel and David Laub on behalf of the entire company read:

“We are deeply, deeply saddened by the passing of Adam Yauch – an amazing leader, a dear friend and an incredible human being. Today we are heartbroken at Oscilloscope as we take in this awful news and our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. Adam’s legacy will remain a driving force at Oscilloscope – his indomitable spirit and his great passion for film, people, and hard work – always with a sense of humour and a lot of heart.”

Indeed sources said O-Scope would continue to operate and added that Fenkel will work with the company for the foreseeable future even though on Thursday, in a separate announcement, it emerged that Fenkel would be seguing into a consultancy role while Berger and Laub would jointly oversee marketing, distribution and acquisitions

Yauch was a founder of the Milarepa Fund, a non-profit body dedicated to promoting awareness and activism related to the plight of Tibet. In 1996 Milarepa produced the first Tibetan Freedom Concert in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, which was attended by 100,000 people.

Yauch is survived by his wife Dechen and his daughter Tenzin Losel, as well as his parents Frances and Noel Yauch.