Ric Menello, a pioneer of hip-hop videos with groups like Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys and later an acclaimed independent filmmaker, died Friday of a heart attack. He was 59.
A lifelong New Yorker, Menello directed the video for the Beastie Boys’ 1987 anthem of anarchy and fun, “Fight for Your Right to Party.”
He later told MTV the video was “stupidity done in an intelligent way,” with references to past films from “Dawn of the Dead” to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
He co-directed the videos for the Beasties’ “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” LL Cool J’s “Going Back to Cali” and Slick Rick’s dark yet subtly humorous “Children’s Story.”
He wrote the full-length 1988 film on Run-DMC, “Tougher Than Leather.”
He continued as a director and actor in subsequent years. He co-wrote the 2008 indy film “Two Lovers,” which starred Joaquin Phoenix, Gwyneth Paltrow and Isabella Rosselini.
His latest film, “Low Life” with Phoenix and Marion Cotillard, is scheduled for release later this year.
Menello came to the hip-hop world through Rick Rubin of Def Jam Records, whom he met when they were students at NYU in the early 1980s.
Menello, a film major, worked one of the desks and Rubin would hang out with him to watch movies.
In later years Menello became a fixture at Brooklyn cafes, including Vox Pop and Sycamore, where he wrote and joined in film discussions.