Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore cancels US book tour due to 'debilitating' illness

US musician Thurston Moore plays at the SXSW Music Festival in 2010.
US musician Thurston Moore plays at the SXSW Music Festival in 2010. Copyright Lance Dawes/AP Photo
By Anca Ulea
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Thurston Moore, co-founder of the US alt rock band Sonic Youth, has called off is book tour due to a 'longstanding' illness. Who are Sonic Youth?


Sonic Youth co-founder Thurston Moore has cancelled his US book tour under advice from his doctors, revealing in an Instagram post that he’s been living with a “longstanding” illness.

“For years I have been dealing with a longstanding health condition, though it has never seriously stopped me from touring and recording,” Moore wrote. “Regardless it’s always been an underlying issue and as I reach my mid-60s this year it has become rather, and consistently, debilitating.”

The 65-year-old singer, guitarist and songwriter of the iconic and now defunct US rock band said his medical team in London, where he lives, advised him not to travel.

Moore’s memoir, “Sonic Life”, comes out on 26 October and is billed as an inside look into his life, from his teenage years in Connecticut to his time in New York with Sonic Youth and finally, his past “thirty years of creation, experimentation, and wonder.”

Founded with his ex-wife and bassist Kim Gordon (whose own 2015 memoir “Girl in a Band” is worth picking up), Sonic Youth was a phenomenon of experimental music in the 80s and 90s, known for bringing their unique brand of noise rock to the masses.

The band influenced an impressive list of acts over the years, from Nirvana to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to My Bloody Valentine to Weezer. They’re also credited with opening the door to the alt rock explosion of the 1990s.

If you’ve never heard of the band and want to know where to start, we’ve put together a starter pack of three albums to get to know what Sonic Youth is about.

Start with: 'Daydream Nation' (1988)

Sonic Youth's "Daydream Nation" has become a pillar of indie rock.
Sonic Youth's "Daydream Nation" has become a pillar of indie rock.Enigma Records

If you have to pick one album to get into Sonic Youth, it’s 'Daydream Nation'. Widely considered the band’s masterpiece and a sacred text of Indie rock, their fifth studio album is nothing short of perfect.

The band’s unique sound - a harmony of all four musicians’ instruments and three distinct songwriting styles seamlessly blended together - is at its best here.

It’s not a surprise that this is also the album that got them a major record deal with Geffen Records, opening the door for other indie rock bands (most notably Nirvana) to do the same.

The album’s opener 'Teen Age Riot' is by far Sonic Youth’s most recognisable song, even making its way into a perfume ad recently. But listen to it with fresh ears and try to imagine what it was like before it became a parody of itself.

Gordon’s 'The Sprawl' is a dreamy descent into a droning dystopia, a testament to the album’s title. And Moore’s 'Silver Rocket' leans heavily into punk-rock influences, with fast guitars and what one critic called “the first genuinely catchy chorus of the band’s career.”

If you like this album, you might want to check out its two predecessors, 'Sister' and 'Evo'.

Continue with: 'Goo' (1990)

Sonic Youth's "Goo" was the band's first album after signing with DGC Records.
Sonic Youth's "Goo" was the band's first album after signing with DGC Records.DGC Records

You’ve surely seen this album cover on some hipster’s t-shirt. It's been spoofed a million times since the album first came out in 1990.

With art by US counterculture cartoonist Raymond Pettibon, who’s perhaps best known for designing the iconic logo for California punk band Black Flag, 'Goo' was Sonic Youth’s first test for its new record label – to see how far they could push this new mainstream thing.

The band's first endeavour after signing with David Geffen’s DGC Records was a resounding success, giving them their biggest radio hit to date: 'Kool Thing', which featured Public Enemy’s Chuck D.

But their experimental roots were still firmly planted, as heard on the short and noisy 'Scooter + Jinx', the product of Moore’s amplifier overheating and exploding while they were recording.

Discover: 'Murray Street' (2004)

Sonic Youth's 12th studio album "Murray Street" was released in 2004.
Sonic Youth's 12th studio album "Murray Street" was released in 2004.DGC Records

Sonic Youth’s 12th studio album 'Murray Street' is a gem. It’s the first album the band put out since adding Jim O’Rourke as a fifth member, and the experimental music legend helped give them some much-needed balance.


Critics almost universally praised it, with some hailing it as the best music they’d made since 'Daydream Nation'. A chiller version of 'Daydream Nation' if you’ll permit the nauseatingly pervasive comparison, it’s a pleasantly short trip with only seven tracks.

Try the opener 'Empty Page' for an easy intro or the 11-minute epic 'Karen Revisited' about Karen Carpenter, the band’s second tribute to the legendary drummer.

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