Hip hop photographer, legendary NYC cable access host and Beastie Boys associate Ricky Powell has died, reports Complex. Tono Radvany, Powell's business partner, confirmed the news writing, "I just want to let everybody know he was a very special man, and he will be sorely missed." He was 59. HipHopDX reports a source saying it was heart failure.
Born in Brooklyn in 1961, Powell went to school with Beastie Boys' Adam Horowitz and became known as the unofficial fourth member of the band. He joined them on the License to Ill tour as in-house photographer and became known for his intimate portraits that have appeared in The New York Times, the New York Post, the Daily News, The Village Voice, The Source and other publications. He published a number of books of his photographs, including The Rickford Files: Classic New York Photographs and Frozade Moments: Classic Street Photography of Ricky Powell.
In New York, Ricky also known for his MNN cable access show Rappin' With the Rickster which ran from from 1990–1996 and was often filmed on the street and at at Lower East side social events. It regularly included interviews with everyone from Sonic Youth to Russell Simmons.
Questlove wrote a tribute to Powell on Instagram:
"Shoutout to The Rickster for being our first tour guide. We were just some young cats in the game on our first American tour & like the freshmen we were Rick was the varsity cat who literally introduced us to everything (“wait you mean I can list like all the cereal i want on my rider & every city it comes and we can take it home?” “Wait Mike D spins records EVERY night before a show?” “Each member has a tourbus!!??” “Oh snap you know where all the record spots are?”) I mean by that point 94 Beasties were not the 84 Beasties I grew up on. They were responsible family cats doing meditation & exercising & like the wildest shit we did was rent out a go cart race track in Utah (thanks Yauch)—-we weren’t the know it alls we grew to be. We were just getting in the game. Powell was that older been there done that figure who schooled us to everything. Last day he told me “always save mementos & documents & photos” I never forgot that. Thank you Rickster! Rest In Breakbeats Man.
The 2020 documentary Ricky Powell: The Individualist looked at Ricky's highs and lows over the course of his life and career.
Rest in peace, Ricky. Watch a few clips from Rappin' With the Rickster, and read tributes from EL-P, A-Trak and more below.below.