Ricky Powell, Hip-Hop Photographer and Honorary ‘4th Beastie Boy,’ Dies at 59. Ricky Powell,
the street photographer who chronicled New York City’s legendary entertainment and hip-hop scene,
died on Monday. He was 59
The Beastie Boys shouted out Powell several times in their track “Car Thief,” off the 1989 album
According to reports, Powell died from heart failure. His manager Tono Radvany confirmed the news,
saying: ‘I just want to let everybody know he was a very special man, and he will be sorely missed.’
In the 80s and 90s, Powell was an icon of the New York music scene as de facto in-house photographer of
Def Jam Recordings. His portraits of legends including Eric B and Rakim, LL Cool J, Run-DMC, Madonna,
Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sofia Coppola, and Laurence Fishburne have been shown in galleries
and published in photo books
In addition to his work with Def Jam, Powell’s photos were featured in the New York Times,
the New York Post, Rolling Stone, The Source, and the Village Voice.
He hosted a talk show from 1990-1996 called “Rappin With the Rickster,” where he interviewed ordinary
people and pop culture icons, including Laurence Fishburne, Cypress Hill, Sonic Youth, Doug E Fresh and
Russell Simmons. Powell lived in Greenwich Village and was known for his intimate recording
of the downtown New York City party scene in the 1980s and 1990s.
He used his exclusive access to photograph artists like Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Powell also published five books and was the subject of the 2020 documentary “Ricky Powell:
The Individualist,” which was directed by Josh Swade and featured comments from Fishburne and Natasha