Thurston Moore

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Thurston Moore
Thurston Moore at 100 Club 02 (2018) (cropped).jpg
Moore performing in 2018
Background information
Birth nameThurston Joseph Moore
Also known asMirror
Fred Cracklin
Born (1958-07-25) July 25, 1958 (age 65)
Coral Gables, Florida, U.S.
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • Guitar
  • vocals
Years active1976–present
(m. 1984;div. 2013)
Eva Prinz
(m. 2020)

Thurston Joseph Moore (born July 25, 1958) [5] is an American guitarist, singer and songwriter best known as a member of the rock band Sonic Youth. He has also participated in many solo and group collaborations outside Sonic Youth, as well as running the Ecstatic Peace! record label. Moore was ranked 34th in Rolling Stone 's 2004 edition of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". [6]


In 2012, Moore started a new band Chelsea Light Moving, [7] whose eponymous debut was released on March 5, 2013. In 2015, Chelsea Light Moving disbanded after one studio album release. [8] Moore and the other members of the band continue to make music under his solo project and other bands.

Early years

Moore was born July 25, 1958, at Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables, Florida, to George E. Moore, a professor of music, and Eleanor Nann Moore. In 1967, he and his family (including brother Frederick Eugene Moore, born 1953, and sister Susan Dorothy Moore, born 1956) moved to Bethel, Connecticut. [9] Raised Catholic, he attended St. Joseph's School in Danbury, CT followed by St. Mary's School in Bethel and attended Bethel High School from 1973 to 1976. He enrolled at Western Connecticut State University in fall 1976, but left after one quarter and moved to East 13th Street between Aves A and B in New York City to join the burgeoning post-punk and no wave music scenes. [10] [11] It was there that he was able to watch shows by the likes of Patti Smith and spoken-word performances by William S. Burroughs. [12] At that time, the arrival of new groups changed his view on music and all of his records "got kind of put into the basement. And they were supplanted by [...] the Sex Pistols and Blondie and Talking Heads and Siouxsie and the Banshees. It was a completely new world, a new identity of music that was an option for youth culture." [13] In 1980 he moved in with Kim Gordon to an apartment at 84 Eldridge St. below artist Dan Graham, eventually befriending him, sometimes using records from Graham's collection for mix tapes. [14]

Once in the city, Moore was briefly a member of the hardcore punk band Even Worse, featuring future The Big Takeover editor (and future Springhouse drummer) Jack Rabid. After exiting the band, Moore and Lee Ranaldo learned experimental guitar techniques in Glenn Branca's "guitar orchestras". [10] Moore has spoken about influences on his music tastes at this time, including British bands Wire, the Pop Group, the Raincoats, the Slits, and Public Image Ltd ("I used to have these fantasies in the 70s about leaving New York and coming to London to hang out with Public Image"). [15]

Sonic Youth

Moore met Kim Gordon in 1980 at the final gig of The Coachmen, the band he was in with J.D. King, Daniel Walworth (replaced by Dave Keay), and Bob Pullin. Moore, with Gordon, Anne Demarinis and Dave Keay formed a band, appearing under names like Male Bonding, [16] Red Milk, [16] and the Arcadians, [17] before settling on Moore's choice of Sonic Youth just before June 1981. [18] The band played Noise Fest in June 1981 at New York's White Columns gallery, where Lee Ranaldo was playing as a member of Glenn Branca's electric guitar ensemble as well as in duo with David Linton as Avoidance Behavior. [19] Moore invited Ranaldo, who he had known when The Coachmen shared a CBGB stage with Ranaldo's 1970s band The Flux, to join the band. The new trio played three songs at the festival later in the week without a drummer. [20] Each band member took turns playing the drums, until they met drummer Richard Edson. [21] The band signed to Neutral Records, then to Homestead Records, and then to SST Records. [22]

Live in the Netherlands (with Sonic Youth), 1991 Sonic1991.jpg
Live in the Netherlands (with Sonic Youth), 1991

Moore and Ranaldo make extensive use of unusual guitar tunings, often heavily modifying their instruments to provide unusual timbres and drones. They are known for bringing upwards of fifty guitars to every gig, using some guitars for one song only. [10] In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Moore and Ranaldo the 33rd and 34th Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Thurston Moore has explained the band's decision to sign with DGC Records at a time when many were fiercely dedicated to independent record labels like SST, Dischord and Sub Pop: [23]

"We noticed Hüsker Dü's music hadn't changed when they signed to Warner. On the independent labels we dealt with, SST Records, Blast First Records and Neutral Records, if there was accounting, it was always somewhat suspect. With Geffen, we would get an advance that would allow us to be able to pay our rents, get health insurance, have a slightly better lifestyle, and maybe, just maybe, not have to work day jobs. We felt like we could negotiate a contract that would make sense."

When Steve Albini accused corporate labels of ripping off artists, Moore wrote in response that a band "getting butt fucked by corporate labels [must] be really stupid". He defended the band's decision to sign with DGC Records explaining that they knew what they were getting into and viewed it more as "buying in" than "selling out". [23]

In 2011, Moore and his wife, Sonic Youth bassist Kim Gordon, separated; shortly afterward, Sonic Youth went on indefinite hiatus. [24] Though his marriage was ending Moore never claimed that Sonic Youth was finished. [25]

Work outside Sonic Youth

In addition to his work with Sonic Youth, Moore has also released albums as a solo artist. He and Gordon released a few songs as Mirror/Dash. Moore established Protest Records as an online gesture of activism but the project has since lapsed. Moore has collaborated with scores of musicians, including Maryanne Amacher, Lydia Lunch, [26] Don Dietrich and Jim Sauter of Borbetomagus, [27] DJ Spooky, William Hooker, Daniel Carter, Christian Marclay, [28] Mike Watt, Loren Mazzacane Connors, [29] Dredd Foole, [30] William Winant, The Thing, Nels Cline, Cock E.S.P., John Moloney, Glenn Branca, [31] Yamantaka Eye, Beck, [32] My Cat is an Alien, [33] John Russell, Steve Noble, John Edwards, Haino Keiji, John Zorn, Yoko Ono, Takehisa Kosugi, and others. Moore was a member of the earliest incarnations of Swans in 1982 and '83, playing bass guitar. [34] [35]

In the early 1990s, Moore formed the side band Dim Stars, with Richard Hell, Don Fleming, Steve Shelley with a guest appearance by Robert Quine. Moore performed solo on the side stage of the 1993 Lollapalooza tour. Additionally, Moore also contributed guitar work and backing vocals on "Crush with Eyeliner", which appeared on R.E.M.'s Monster . He played Fred Cracklin in the Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode dedicated to Sonny Sharrock. In 2000 he contributed improvised guitar pieces for a collaborative project with conceptual artist/guitarist Marco Fusinato. [36] Since 2004, he has recorded and performed with the noise collective To Live and Shave in L.A., the lineup of which also features Andrew W.K. He recorded with the band at Sonic Youth's former studio in Manhattan, and later performed with them at the George W. Bush "anti-inaugural" Noise Against Fascism concert in Washington, D.C., which Moore curated, named in reference to Sonic Youth's 1992 song "Youth Against Fascism". Moore curated the "Nightmare Before Christmas" weekend of the All Tomorrow's Parties music festival in December 2006. [37]

On September 18, 2007, Moore's label Ecstatic Peace released a solo album titled Trees Outside the Academy . The album was recorded at J Mascis' studio in Amherst, Massachusetts. The album features Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and violinist Samara Lubelski. The album also features collaborations between Mascis and Charalambides' Christina Carter, who performs a duet with Moore on the track, "Honest James". [38]

On September 24, 2008, Moore was working on a song with former Be Your Own Pet vocalist Jemina Pearl, a cover of the Ramones song "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker". The song was recorded for the teenage drama Gossip Girl and was featured in the episode "There Might Be Blood".

Since 2008, Moore has provided narration for a variety of documentaries on the National Geographic Channel. His work includes Inside: Straight Edge and the Hard Time series about life in prison.

On September 25, 2012, Moore and Kim Gordon released a collaborative album with Yoko Ono titled Yokokimthurston . [39]

In 2012 Moore started a new band called Chelsea Light Moving. Their first track, "Burroughs", was released as a free download. [7] Their eponymous debut album was released on March 5, 2013. The release coincided with the 2013 SXSW Festival where they made numerous appearances including a free show at Mellow Johnny's bike shop.

In July 2012 Moore had joined the black metal super group Twilight. [40]

On November 24, 2013, he played guitar on "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us" alongside Ron and Russell Mael in a Sparks concert at the Union Chapel, Islington, London.

In September 2014, Moore released The Best Day , a solo album featuring Steve Shelley and My Bloody Valentine's Debbie Googe as rhythm section, and James Sedwards on guitar. [41] [42]

In April 2018, Moore presented at London's Barbican Centre his work 'Galaxies', an experimental 12-string guitar ensemble. Among the twelve person orchestra were Deb Googe, Jonah Falco, Ray Aggs, Joseph Coward and others.

In 2019, Moore released Spirit Counsel, an avant-garde rock three-disc box set. [43] [44] The first track, "Alice Moki Jayne", is a 63-minute long song named for the spouses of John Coltrane, Don Cherry, and Ornette Coleman. [44] The 28 minute "8 Spring Street" is named for the former address of Glenn Branca. [44] The 55-minute final track, "Galaxies (Sky)", was inspired by a poem by Sun Ra. [44]

In late 2020, Moore released a solo album entitled By the Fire which featured guitarist James Sedwards and bassist Debbie Googe as on the earlier The Best Days album. [45]

In February 2021, Moore surprise-released an instrumental album entitled Screen Time . [46]

Moore is an executive producer of the industrial metal opera "Black Lodge" by David T. Little and Anne Waldman featuring Timur and the Dime Museum, released on June 2, 2023 on Cantaloupe Music. [47]

Work on soundtracks

Thurston Moore performing with Sonic Youth at the 2005 Roskilde Festival Thurstonmoore.JPG
Thurston Moore performing with Sonic Youth at the 2005 Roskilde Festival

In 1994, Moore teamed up with Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs, Don Fleming of Gumball, Mike Mills of R.E.M., and Dave Grohl of Nirvana/Foo Fighters, to form the Backbeat Band, which recorded the soundtrack album to the movie Backbeat . In 1998 Moore played on the soundtrack of the film Velvet Goldmine as a member of Wylde Ratttz. Moore composed original music for such films as Heavy (1995), Bully (2001), and Manic (2001). In 2007, Moore also appeared with noise/improv group Original Silence, featuring Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, guitarist Terrie Ex, Jim O'Rourke, saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and bassist Massimo Pupillo. The group released the live album The First Original Silence in 2007, on Oslo (Norway) label SmallTown Superjazz, and a second album The Second Original Silence in 2008. [48]

Moore scored the 2022 HBO miniseries Irma Vep . [49]

Record label

Moore runs the record label Ecstatic Peace! Beginning in 1993, this label jointly released records with rock critic Byron Coley's label, Father Yod, as Ecstatic Yod Records.


Moore and other Sonic Youth members published the irreverent music zine called Sonic Death. Moore reviewed new music in Arthur in a column entitled "Bull Tongue" written jointly with Byron Coley. Since the demise of Arthur, Bull Tongue exists as a fanzine edited by Coley and features underground music writing. Moore created, with Chris Habib, the website Protest Records, named for its protest against United States' invasions in the Middle East.

Moore was the editor/overseer of the 2005 book Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture . He published a highly influential list of collectible free jazz records in Grand Royal magazine. [50]

Ecstatic Peace Library is the book publishing company founded by Thurston Moore and visual book editor Eva Prinz in 2010. [51] The company publishes mainly poetry, but also a collection of books about the early Norwegian black metal scene, experimental jazz from the 70s and other niche subjects.

In the Fall of 2023, a hardcover memoir written by Moore called Sonic Life: a Memoir was published by Doubleday. [52]


In 2015 Moore was appointed honorary professor at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory (RMC) in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he periodically conducts workshops and master classes. [53]

Politics and activism

Moore is anti-capitalist, [54] and since the 1980s, Moore and his bandmates have been described as anarchists, [55] a label Moore has denied. [56] However, in 2013, he would commend the Occupy Wall Street protests by announcing his support for its anarcho-communist elements. [57]

Since the founding of Sonic Youth, Moore and members of the band have been famously critical of the music industry [58] and what he calls the monopolization of youth culture, with Moore stating in 1991 during filming of The Year Punk Broke,

"People see rock and roll as youth culture, and when youth culture becomes monopolized by big business, what are the youth to do? I think we should destroy the bogus capitalist process that is destroying youth culture".

Since 2004, Moore has participated in a cultural boycott of Israel, likening the country to an apartheid state [59] and criticizing bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Radiohead [60] for performing in the country.

In June 2016, Moore endorsed the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, releasing a track featuring excerpts from Sanders' speeches to coincide along his endorsement. [61]

In November 2019, along with other public figures, Moore signed a letter supporting Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn describing him as "a beacon of hope in the struggle against emergent far-right nationalism, xenophobia and racism in much of the democratic world" and endorsed him in the 2019 UK general election. [62]

In October 2022, Moore expressed support for former president Lula in the 2022 Brazilian general election. [63]

Personal life

Moore at the Brooklyn Book Festival in 2008 Thurston Moore at the Brooklyn Book Festival.jpg
Moore at the Brooklyn Book Festival in 2008

On June 9, 1984, Moore married Sonic Youth bassist/vocalist Kim Gordon. They have a daughter: Coco Hayley Gordon Moore (b. July 1, 1994) better known for work on Gilmore Girls and being a fashion model. On October 14, 2011, the couple announced that they were separating [24] due to an extramarital affair Moore engaged in with art book editor Eva Prinz, who was also married at the time. [64] Moore and Gordon divorced in 2013. As of 2017, Moore was residing in Stoke Newington, London, with Prinz. [65] [66] Moore and Prinz were married in late 2020. [67]

Moore released his memoirs, Sonic Life: a Memoir , in October 2023. [68]


Moore uses a large selection of Fender guitars during Sonic Youth gigs, most frequently a Jazzmaster. His primary stage amp has been the Peavey Roadmaster paired with a Marshall cabinet. He has used the ProCo Rat, Big Muff, and MXR Blue Box pedals in various combinations to achieve his unique distorted and feedback-laden guitar sound. [69]

Moore is a key figure in the popularization and resurrection of the Fender Jazzmaster. In 2009, Fender introduced a Lee Ranaldo signature edition of a Sapphire Blue Transparent version featuring two Fender Wide Range humbucking pickups and a Forest Green transparent finish for Moore, equipped with a pair of Seymour Duncan Antiquity II Jazzmaster single-coil pickups. [70]

In 2016 Yuri Landman made a special 10-string drone guitar for Moore at the request of Premier Guitar. [71]



As member

With Sonic Youth

With Chelsea Light Moving

With Pvre Matrix

With Twilight


Limited edition noise, experimental, drone

Free improvisation


Caught on Tape series

With Diskaholics Anonymous Trio

With Original Silence

With Glenn Branca

With the Coachmen


Split LPs


Guest appearances

Moore in music is (Speaking Portraits) (Vol. I) Thurston Moore in music is (Speaking Portraits) (Vol. I).jpg
Moore in music is (Speaking Portraits) (Vol. I)

Music videos


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sonic Youth</span> American rock band (1981–2011)

Sonic Youth was an American rock band based in New York City and formed in 1981. Founding members Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo remained together for the entire history of the band, while Steve Shelley (drums) followed a series of short-term drummers in 1985, rounding out the core line-up. Jim O'Rourke was also a member of the band from 1999 to 2005, and Mark Ibold was a member from 2006 to 2011.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lee Ranaldo</span> American rock musician

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