Over the past couple of years, between treatments for the salivary cancer that spread and finally took his life on May 4th, Yauch started riding horses. If you're looking for a final image of Adam Yauch, you could do worse than this one: Thin, white-bearded, a cowboy hat on his graying head, Yauch would slip Western boots onto stirrups, take the reins and ride through vast, peaceful green fields in rural Tennessee.
The property belonged to Sheryl Crow, a cancer survivor who struck up an incongruous friendship with Yauch after he began calling her for advice on his illness (they had gotten to know each other on a 2008 get-out-the-vote tour). He found an advanced-treatment center in Nashville capable of genetically targeting his cancer, and he asked Crow where he should stay – she offered her own 154-acre compound, 45 minutes outside of town.
Crow has a vivid recollection of the first night he showed up there, after flying in from New York. "I was expecting to see somebody really weak and pale," she says. "But he looked so radiant, as light as the most awake person I've ever encountered. He was just hopeful to the very end, I believe. He was always on the enlightenment tip. He was always in line with his search for serenity and peace and understanding. And I loved that about him. Here he was, one of the Beastie Boys, and he was one of the wisest people I've known."