Thurston Moore

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Thurston Moore
Thurston Moore's Chelsea Light Moving Fun Fun Fun Fest 2013-0052 (13679785834) (cropped).jpg
Moore performing with Chelsea Light Moving in 2013
Background information
Birth nameThurston Joseph Moore
Also known asMirror
Fred Cracklin
Born (1958-07-25) July 25, 1958 (age 62)
Coral Gables, Florida, U.S.
  • Singer-songwriter
  • musician
  • poet
  • publisher
  • editor
  • teacher
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • bass
  • piano
  • drums
Years active1976–present
Associated acts

Thurston Joseph Moore (born July 25, 1958) [7] is an American musician best known as a member of 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." [8] In May 2012, Spin published a staff-selected list of the top 100 rock guitarists, and ranked Moore and his Sonic Youth bandmate Lee Ranaldo together at number 1. [9]


In 2012, Moore started a new band Chelsea Light Moving, with their first track, "Burroughs", released as a free download. [10] Chelsea Light Moving eponymous debut was released on March 5, 2013. Since 2015, Chelsea Light Moving has disbanded, after 1 studio album release. [11] 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 and Eleanor Nann Moore, and moved with his family (including brother Frederick Eugene Moore, born 1953, and sister Susan Dorothy Moore, born 1956) in 1967 to Bethel, Connecticut. [12] He attended St. Joseph's School in Danbury, followed by St. Mary's School in Bethel and attended Bethel High School from 1973–76. 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. [13] It was there that he was able to watch shows by the likes of Patti Smith and spoken-word performances by William S. Burroughs. [14] 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. [15]

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." [13] 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"). [16]

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, [17] Red Milk, [17] and the Arcadians, [18] before settling on Moore's choice of Sonic Youth just before June 1981. [19] 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. [20] 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. [21] Each band member took turns playing the drums, until they met drummer Richard Edson. [22] The band signed to Neutral Records, then to Homestead Records, and then to SST Records. [23]

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. [13] 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: [24]

"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". [24]

While recording Goo , Moore played the Nirvana album Bleach for Masterdisk audio engineer Howie Weinberg saying that he would be very happy if the record sounded like Bleach. Weinberg was surprised by the request to emulate a recording as primitive as Bleach (which was recorded on a $600 budget). Moore has said that he "really love[s] that record", describing it as "primal" and the songwriting as "completely melodious" but also "punk". [24]

In 2011, Moore and his wife, Sonic Youth bassist Kim Gordon, separated; shortly afterward, Sonic Youth went on indefinite hiatus. [25] Though his marriage was ending Moore never claimed that Sonic Youth was finished. [26]

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, DJ Spooky, William Hooker, Daniel Carter, Christian Marclay, Mike Watt, Loren Mazzacane Connors, William Winant, The Thing, Nels Cline, Cock E.S.P., John Moloney, Glenn Branca, Yamantaka Eye, My Cat is an Alien. [ citation needed ], John Russell, Steve Noble, John Edwards, Haino Keiji, John Zorn, Yoko Ono, Takehisa Kosugi, and others.

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. [27] 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. [28]

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." [29]

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 . [30]

In 2012 Moore started a new band called Chelsea Light Moving. Their first track, "Burroughs", was released as a free download. [10] 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. [31]

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. [6] [32]

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, Rachel Aggs, Joseph Coward and others.

Work on film 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. [33]

Record label and writings

Moore and other Sonic Youth members published the irreverent music zine Sonic Death. 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 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. [34]

Ecstatic Peace Library is the book publishing company founded by Thurston Moore and visual book editor Eva Prinz in 2010. [35] 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 2015 Moore was appointed honorary professor at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory (RMC) in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he periodically conducts workshops and master classes. [36]

Personal life

On June 9, 1984, Moore married Sonic Youth bassist/vocalist Kim Gordon. They have a daughter: Coco Hayley Gordon Moore (born July 1, 1994). On October 14, 2011, the couple announced that they were separating [25] due to an extramarital affair Moore engaged in with art book editor Eva Prinz, who was also married at the time. [37] Moore and Gordon divorced in 2013. As of 2017, Moore was residing in Stoke Newington, London, with Prinz. [38] [39]

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. [40]


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. [41]

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. [42]

In 2016 Yuri Landman made a special 10-string drone guitar for Moore at the request of Premier Guitar. [43]



As member

With Sonic Youth

With Chelsea Light Moving

With Pvre Matrix

With Thurston Moore Group


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

Music videos


Related Research Articles

Sonic Youth Alternative rock band formed in New York, New York, United States

Sonic Youth was an American rock band based in New York City, formed in 1981. Founding members Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon 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 a member of the band from 1999 to 2005.

Lee Ranaldo American musician

Lee Mark Ranaldo is an American musician, singer-songwriter, guitarist, writer, visual artist and record producer, best known as a co-founder of the alternative rock band Sonic Youth. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Ranaldo at number 33 on its "Greatest Guitarists of All Time" list. In May 2012, Spin published a staff selected top 100 guitarist list, ranking Ranaldo and his Sonic Youth bandmate Thurston Moore together at number 1.

<i>Daydream Nation</i> 1988 studio album by Sonic Youth

Daydream Nation is the fifth studio album by American alternative rock band Sonic Youth, released on October 18, 1988. The band recorded the album between July and August 1988 at Greene St. Recording in New York City, and it was released by Enigma Records as a double album.

<i>A Thousand Leaves</i> 1998 studio album by Sonic Youth

A Thousand Leaves is the tenth studio album by American rock band Sonic Youth, released on May 12, 1998 by DGC Records. It was the band's first album recorded at their own studio in Lower Manhattan, which was built with the money they had made at the 1995 Lollapalooza festival. Since the band had an unlimited amount of time to work in their studio, the album features numerous lengthy and improvisational tracks that were developed unevenly. The highly experimental extended plays Anagrama, Slaapkamers met slagroom, and Invito al ĉielo were recorded simultaneously with the album.

<i>Dirty</i> (Sonic Youth album) 1992 studio album by Sonic Youth

Dirty is the seventh studio album by American rock band Sonic Youth, released on July 21, 1992 by DGC Records. The band recorded and co-produced the album with Butch Vig in early 1992 at the Magic Shop studios. The sound on Dirty was inspired by the grunge scene of the time, and was described as avant-rock. Some songs on the album mark the first appearance of three guitars in Sonic Youth songs.

<i>Sister</i> (Sonic Youth album) 1987 studio album by Sonic Youth

Sister is the fourth studio album by American alternative rock band Sonic Youth. It was released in June 1987 by SST Records. The album furthered the band's move away from the no wave genre towards more traditional song structures, while maintaining an aggressively experimental approach.

<i>Washing Machine</i> (album) 1995 studio album by Sonic Youth

Washing Machine is the ninth studio album by the American experimental rock band Sonic Youth, released on September 26, 1995 by DGC Records. It was recorded at Easley Studios in Memphis, Tennessee and produced by the band and John Siket, who also engineered the band's previous two albums. The album features more open-ended pieces than its predecessors and contains some of the band's longest songs, including the 20-minute ballad "The Diamond Sea", which is the lengthiest track to feature on any of Sonic Youth's studio albums.

<i>Sonic Youth</i> (EP) 1982 EP by Sonic Youth

Sonic Youth is the debut EP by American rock band Sonic Youth. It was recorded between December 1981 and January 1982 and released in March 1982 by Glenn Branca's Neutral label. It is the only recording featuring the early Sonic Youth lineup with Richard Edson on drums. Sonic Youth differs stylistically from the band's later work in its greater incorporation of clean guitars, standard tuning, crisp production and a post-punk style.

<i>Confusion Is Sex</i> 1983 studio album by Sonic Youth

Confusion Is Sex is the debut studio album by American noise rock band Sonic Youth. It was released on 12" vinyl in February 1983 by record label Neutral. It has been cited as an important example of the no wave genre. AllMusic called it "lo-fi to the point of tonal drabness, as the instruments seem to ring out in only one tone, that of screechy noise".

<i>Evol</i> (Sonic Youth album) 1986 studio album by Sonic Youth

EVOL is the third studio album by the American alternative rock band Sonic Youth. It was released in May 1986 by SST Records, the band's first release on the label. The album is notable for being the first with a new drummer, Steve Shelley, replacing Bob Bert, and for showing signs of the band's transition from their no wave past toward a greater pop sensibility.

<i>NYC Ghosts & Flowers</i> 2000 studio album by Sonic Youth

NYC Ghosts & Flowers is the eleventh studio album by American rock band Sonic Youth, released on May 16, 2000 by DGC Records. The highly experimental album is considered to be a reaction to the theft of the band's instruments in July 1999, when several irreplaceable guitars and effects pedals were stolen. NYC Ghosts & Flowers was the first album since Bad Moon Rising in which the band used prepared guitar.

<i>Murray Street</i> (album) 2002 studio album by Sonic Youth

Murray Street is the twelfth studio album by American rock band Sonic Youth, released on June 25, 2002 by DGC Records. Murray Street is the first album by the band to feature Jim O'Rourke as an official fifth member to bolster the group's sound.

Teen Age Riot

"Teen Age Riot" was the first single from Sonic Youth's 1988 album, Daydream Nation. It received heavy airplay on modern rock stations and considerably expanded their audience.

<i>SYR3: Invito al ĉielo</i> 1998 studio album by Sonic Youth/Jim ORourke

SYR3: Invito al ĉielo is an album by American alternative rock band Sonic Youth. It was released on March 2, 1998, and was the third in a series of experimental releases issued on the band's own SYR label. SYR3 marked the beginning of the band's collaborations with producer and musician Jim O'Rourke; his continuing work with the group after SYR3 resulted in O'Rourke becoming an official member of Sonic Youth by 2002's Murray Street.

My Cat Is An Alien (MCIAA) is the name of the Italian musical duo and outsider audiovisual artists consisting of brothers Maurizio and Roberto Opalio, formed in Torino, Italy, in late 1997. They release avant garde / experimental music in a peculiar form of improvisation that MCIAA themselves define 'instantaneous composition'.

<i>Trees Outside the Academy</i> 2007 studio album by Thurston Moore

Trees Outside the Academy is the second solo studio album by American musician Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. It was released on September 18, 2007, and was Moore's first solo album since 1995's Psychic Hearts. It was released on Moore's own label, Ecstatic Peace!. It was recorded with Sonic Youth's drummer Steve Shelley and violinist Samara Lubelski.

<i>SYR8: Andre Sider Af Sonic Youth</i> 2008 live album by Sonic Youth med Mats Gustafsson og Merzbow

SYR8: Andre Sider af Sonic Youth is a live album by Sonic Youth with Mats Gustafsson and Merzbow. It was the eighth release in the SYR series. It was released on July 28, 2008. The album was recorded on July 1, 2005 at the Roskilde Festival. The album title is in Danish and means "Other sides of Sonic Youth".

<i>Bad Moon Rising</i> (album) 1985 studio album by Sonic Youth

Bad Moon Rising is the second studio album by American rock band Sonic Youth, released in March 1985 by Blast First and Homestead Records. The album is loosely themed around the dark side of America, including references to obsession, insanity, Charles Manson, heavy metal, Satanism, and early European settlers' encounters with Native Americans.

<i>The Eternal</i> (album) 2009 studio album by Sonic Youth

The Eternal is the fifteenth and final studio album by American alternative rock band Sonic Youth, released on June 9, 2009 by Matador Records, their first and only on that label. It was their first studio album in three years, making it the band's longest delay between studio albums.

<i>Goo</i> (album) 1990 studio album by Sonic Youth

Goo is the sixth studio album by American alternative rock band Sonic Youth, released on June 26, 1990 by DGC Records. For this album, the band sought to expand upon its trademark alternating guitar arrangements and the layered sound of their previous album Daydream Nation (1988). The band's songwriting on Goo is more topical than past works, exploring themes of female empowerment and pop culture. Coming off the success of Daydream Nation, Nick Sansano returned to engineer Goo, but veteran producer Ron Saint Germain was chosen by Sonic Youth to finish mixing the album following Sansano's dismissal.


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