Partygoers in Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)"
The Beastie Boys Provide A License To Party
Welcome to Forgotten Videos. For some, these videos are forgotten, for others just filed away, and for others still, a totally brand-new discovery. Whichever category you fall into, each week we'll feature a video that's possibly been collecting dust when what it really deserves is a fresh look. Or vice-versa. … We're not here to judge, we just want to take you on a little trip down memory lane. Yep, you'll remember when hair was really that big, when drums were that up front in the mix, when video was young(er) and so were you.
"(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)"
A "Thriller"-type mini-movie extravaganza it is not. Though it was made during music video's golden age, there is no big-time budget or high-profile director attached to the Beastie Boys' video for "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)."
With a career spanning more than 30 years, the three-time GRAMMY-winning trio has graduated to hip-hop royalty, recently earning induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But when this video was made, the band was not yet a star act outside of the five boroughs of its native New York. And the video itself is an unforgettable reflection of the Beastie Boys' early days just before their debut album, Licensed To Ill, soared to No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Tabitha Soren, then a 19-year-old New York University student, was not familiar with the yet-to-be-released rap-rock song when she was asked by her friend Rick Rubin to attend the video shoot. (Rubin co-produced Licensed To Ill and subsequently went on to achieve great acclaim as a producer and record label head.)
"I was friends with Rick Rubin. He was a graduate of NYU," recalls Soren, who would gain her own notoriety as a reporter for MTV News in the early '90s. "We were going to go out for dinner or something afterward. I didn't really know the Beastie Boys directly, but I ended up in their video anyway. They weren't very picky at that point."
Co-directed by Adam C. Dubin and Ric Menello, the "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)" video was a loosely scripted project that simply required a roomful of willing participants who knew a thing or two about hell-raising. The plot is simple: two nerdy boys are left home for the evening and find their party crashed by the Beastie Boys and their unsavory associates.
According to Jimmy G, the frontman for the New York punk band Murphy's Law who appeared in the video, there was no casting call for the low-budget video. Instead, this irreverent piece of revelry was mostly populated by people directly or indirectly connected to the band or Rubin.
"Go crazy and act nuts" was about the extent of the stage directions Jimmy G recalls receiving at the one-day video shoot.
"That wasn't too hard to do at that time," says Jimmy G, who continues to front Murphy's Law. "We were drinking this stuff called 'Tango,' which was pretty much a screwdriver with Tang. Everyone was definitely … having a good time for real. It wasn't acted out at all."
The Beastie Boys — Mike D, Adam Yauch and Adam Horowitz — had a great time as well. "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right…" became the trio's lone song to crack the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Soren says she managed to stay sober that day and is proud to have survived unscathed during the wild pie-fight climax.
"The whipped-cream fight was very smelly because it was grabbed from behind the supermarket expiration pile," recalls Soren, who is now a photographer as well as mother and wife of author Michael Lewis. "I'm sure the budget for that video was tiny. They were just trying to get as many free props as they could. Once somebody opened the whipped cream, you knew to stay away. It was just really gross. I felt badly for the people who got hit in the face with the whipped cream."
Can you pick out Tabitha Soren and Jimmy G in the video? Leave us a comment.
(Jon Matsumoto is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer.)