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Thurston Joseph Moore (born July 25, 1958)[1] is an American musician best known as a singer, songwriter and guitarist of Sonic Youth. He has also participated in many solo and group collaborations outside of 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."[2] In May 2012, Spin published a staff-selected top 100 ranking Moore and his Sonic Youth bandmate Lee Ranaldo together on number 1.[3]

In 2012, Moore started new band Chelsea Light Moving, with their first track, "Burroughs", released as a free download.[4]

Early yearsEdit

Moore was born in Coral Gables, Florida, but was raised in Bethel, Connecticut.[5] Although he enrolled at Western Connecticut State University, he instead moved to New York City to join the burgeoning post-punk/no wave music scenes.[6] At the beginning of his time in New York, he lived in an apartment below artist Dan Graham, eventually befriending him, sometimes using records from Graham's collection for mix tapes.   

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."[6]

Sonic YouthEdit

Main article: Sonic Youth

Moore and Ranaldo soon formed Sonic Youth, serving as the band's guitarists, with Moore on lead vocals on a good portion of the material. The band signed to Neutral Records, then to Homestead Records, and then to SST Records.


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.[6] In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Moore and Ranaldo the 33rd and 34th Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

In 2011, Moore and his wife, Sonic Youth bassist Kim Gordon, announced they had separated; shortly afterward, Ranaldo announced the indefinite hiatus of Sonic Youth.[7]

Work outside of Sonic YouthEdit

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, a reference to their respective nicknames. ("Mirror" being an alliterative pun on "Moore" [Citation needed], and "Dash" being a pun on Flash Gordon.[Citation needed]) The two also established Protest Records together 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, Tom Surgal, William Winant, Nels Cline, Cock E.S.P., WRONG, Daniel Castro, Glenn Branca, Yamantaka Eye, Chris Corsano and My Cat is an Alien. Most of his solo/duo collaborations have been instrumental, and are generally improvised and/or noise based.

In the early 1990s, Moore formed the side band Dim Stars, with Richard Hell, Don Fleming, Steve Shelley and 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.

In 1996, Moore was a guest on Episode 23 of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, entitled "Sharrock."  This episode was in memory of avant-garde guitarist, Sonny Sharrock, who composed the music for the show.

Since 2004, Moore 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., 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.

Moore directed the music video for Pavement's song "Here," from Slanted and Enchanted. Foot is a collaboration between Don Fleming, Jim Dunbar and Thurston Moore.

On June 21, 2007, Moore revealed to Spin Magazine that he would be releasing a solo album titled Trees Outside The Academy. The album was recorded at J Mascis' studio in Amherst, Massachusetts. The album is made up of mostly acoustic material and 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." The album was released on September 18, 2007, on Moore's label Ecstatic Peace.

On September 24, 2008, Pitchfork Media reported that Thurston 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.

Moore announced in 2012 that he was to start a new band called Chelsea Light Moving. Their first track, "Burroughs", was released as a free download.[4]

In 2012 Moore and Kim Gordon announced that they were working on a collaborative album with Yoko Ono to be titled YOKOKIMTHURSTON.  The album was released on September 25 through Chimera Records.[8]

In July 2012 Nachtmystium vocalist/guitarist Blake Judd announced that Moore had joined the black metal super group Twilight.[9]

Work on film soundtracksEdit


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, along with The Stooges' Ron Asheton, his Sonic Youth bandmate Steve Shelley, Minutemen's Mike Watt, Gumball's Don Fleming, Mark Arm of Mudhoney and Jim Dunbar.

Moore also composed original music for the films:

In 2007, Moore also appeared with noise/improv group "Original Silence" featuring Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love (The thing, Atomic, Scorch Trio), guitarist Terrie Ex (The Ex), Jim O'Rourke (Sonic Youth, Wilco, Illusion of Safety), saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and bassist Massimo Pupillo (Zu). 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.

Record label and writingsEdit

Moore and other Sonic Youth members published the irreverent music zine Sonic Life. 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 reviews new music in Arthur Magazine in a column written jointly with Byron Coley. He manages 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.[10]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1984, Moore married Sonic Youth bassist/vocalist Kim Gordon. The pair have a daughter, Coco Hayley Gordon Moore (born 1 July 1994). On October 14, 2011, the couple announced that they were separating.[11]


Moore is known for using a large selection of Fender guitars during Sonic Youth gigs, most frequently a Jazzmaster and a heavily modified Mustang with three Stratocaster single coils and a 5-way selector called "Astroboy".  His primary stage amp has been the Peavey Roadmaster paired with a Marshall cabinet.  He has used the ProCo Rat, Big Muff, Crowther Hotcake, and MXR Blue Box pedals in various combinations to achieve his unique distorted and feedback-laden guitar sound.

Since Ranaldo and Moore, together with Elvis Costello, J. Mascis, Nels Cline, and Kevin Shields, are known for being key figures 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).[12]

Solo discography and collaborations Edit

Solo albums


Limited Edition Noise, experimental, drone projects
  • 2008 - Sensitive / Lethal
  • 2010 - Suicide Notes For Acoustic Guitar EP
  • 2010 - Schwarze Polizei (with Kommissar Hjuler, Goaty Tapes), Limited Edition of 50 Cassettes only
  • 2012 - Fundamental Sunshine [Thurston Moore / John Moloney], Cassette  

  • 1988 - Barefoot In The Head [with Jim Sauter & Don Dietrich]
  • 1995 - Klangfarbenmelodie & the Colorist Strikes Primitive [with Tom Surgal]
  • 1999 - The Promise [With Evan Parker & Walter Prati]
  • 2000 - New York - Ystad [Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, Mats Gustafsson]
  • 2000 - TM/MF [Thurston Moore, Marco Fusinato]
  • 2001 - Three Incredible Ideas [Thurston Moore / Walter Prati / Giancarlo Schiaffini]

Free Improvisation Albums
  • 2007 - The Roadhouse Session Vol.1 [Thurston Moore / Chris Corsano / Paul Flaherty / Wally Shoup 4tet]
  • 2008 - Untitled [Paul Flaherty / Thurston Moore / Bill Nace]
  • 2011 - Les Anges Du Péché [Jean-Marc Montera / Thurston Moore / Lee Ranaldo]

Live Albums

Albums with Sonic Youth

Albums with Diskaholics Anonymous Trio [Jim O'Rourke, Mats Gustafsson, Thurston Moore]
  • 2001 - Diskaholics Anonymous Trio
  • 2006 - Weapons Of Ass Destruction (Recorded in 2002)

Albums with Original Silence
  • 2007 - The First Original Silence (Recorded live in concert on sept. 30 2005 at Teatro Ariosto, Reggio Emilia, Italy)
  • 2008 - The Second Original Silence (Recorded Live In Concert on September 28, 2005 at Brancaleone, Rome)

Early work with Glenn Branca
  • 1982 - Symphony No. 2 "The Peak Of The Sacred"
  • 1983 - Symphony No. 3 "Gloria" - Music for the first 127 intervals of the harmonic series

Early work with the Coachmen
  • 1979 - Failure to Thrive

  • "Sputnik" 7" (1997) Thurston Moore and Don Fleming on one side, Pete Kember aka Sonic Boom on the other. Gilltery vinyl.
  • "Wonderful Witches" single (2007)
  • 1995 - The Church Should Be For The Outcasts, Not A Church That Casts People Out (7") [As Male Slut]

Split LPs
  • From The Earth To The Spheres (2004, split with My Cat Is An Alien)
  • Thrash Sabbatical (2008, Deathbomb Arc, four-way split 12" + 2x7" w/ Men Who Can't Love, Barrabarracuda, Kevin Shields)
  • Mature, Lonely + Out of Control/Alternative Hair Styles (2008, Nihilist Records, split LP with Graham Moore)

Album appearances
  • 1997 - Legend Of The Blood Yeti (by XIII Ghosts & Derek Bailey)
  • 1998 - Velvet Goldmine - Music From The Original Motion Picture ("T.V. Eye" with the Wylde Ratttz)
  • 2006 - The Voloptulist [The New Blockaders, with Thurston Moore (track 1) / Jim O'Rourke (track 2)]
  • 2007 - Touch The Iceberg (by Owl Xounds Exploding Galaxy)


  1. Template:Cite encyclopedia
  2. 100 Greatest Guitarists: David Fricke's Picks: Thurston Moore | Rolling Stone
  3. SPIN's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time | SPIN | Best of SPIN | All Time. SPIN (2012-05-03). Retrieved on September 25, 2012.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Thurston Moore starts new band. The Line Of Best Fit. Retrieved on September 25, 2012.
  5. Dixon, Ken, "Music Hall of Fame proposed for state", article in Connecticut Post in Bridgeport, Connecticut, April 26, 2007 ("Thurston Moore, leader of alt-rock legends Sonic Youth, who grew up in Bethel")
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Azerrad, Michael. Our Band Could Be Your Life. New York: Little, Brown, 2001
  7. Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore Announce Split. SPIN Magazine.
  8. Young, Alex (2012-06-20). "Yoko Ono, Thurston Moore, and Kim Gordon team up for collaborative album". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
  9. Nachtmystium Interview Part 2: Fuzzy Synths, Working With Thurston Moore, And The Possibility Of Happy Black Metal. The 1st Five (2012-07-30). Retrieved on September 25, 2012.
  10. Saucer-Like Sonic Youth # Articles
  11. Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore Separate | News | Pitchfork
  12. [1]Template:Dead link
  13. Zywietz, Tobias. Chart Log UK – Update 4.06.2011. Zobbel. Retrieved on June 5, 2011.

External linksEdit

  • Official Myspace page for "Kill Your Idols", a documentary about the Cinema of Transgression featuring Thurston Moore

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