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Sonic Youth Gear Stolen!
August 23, 1999

OK, I know very well that the following news are out of date, but I've just been so damn busy this summer, so I haven't had the time to post anything new to the site. In the meantime, I did a facelift on this site and so on... Right now I'm trying to catch up on the news/tour dates so please forgive me. Anyway, I decided to search the net for articles on the case and then break these news online as some of you fans out there know nothing about this yet. The thing is that someone robbed their gear by breaking into a rented Ryder truck on July 4th. On the next day, Lee wrote an e-mail for the internet (and it was passed on by Mike Watt). Here's a copy of it:

>Hello all, this is Lee from Sonic Youth here, we have had a fucked up situation come down on us over this last night--a brand new Ryder truck parked at a Ramada Inn in Orange County with ALL OF OUR GEAR IN IT was STOLEN! All of our guitars, tools, amplifiers, drums, synth -- EVERYTHING. We are fucked, both for the show tonight at the "This Ain't No Picnic" here in Orange Co., and for shows upcoming this week in Austin and Santa Fe. Our guitars are all mostly older and either very modified and/or fucked up/beat up. They are unmistakably ours, as are some of the amps, including my own 60s Fender Concert with the red/blue/yellow "Jasper Johns-style" target on it.

We are asking ANYONE with ANY INFORMATION about this to get in touch with us as soon as possible by calling our man Aaron Blitzstein in New York City at 212.343.2314, or via email to "". Call collect if you want to. Please no pranks, all, this is really serious--all the gear we've used to write our last few LPs worth of stuff, instruments used for songs old and new which if truly lost will mean those songs will be lost forever.

Help us out if you can, there will be a reward for any info, I'm sure. All our road cases, etc, are fully marked up with our name on them, the gtrs are so unusual that they won't really be too hard to mistake. ANY info at all will be appreciated.

If the thieves themselves read this, I'm sure we'd rather buy the stuff back from you than lose it forever (you fukkerz).

Here are some descriptions of gear:

drums: green satin flame 60s Gretch kit (w "paisley" glow in dark kik head
Fender ToneMaster head and 4x12 cabinet
Fender blackface Concert (4x10) w "Target design" spraypainted on front
Pex12 fender cab
Fender precision Bass
Gibson Les Paul Jr w snoopy sticker
Fender Jazzmasters and Jaguars--lots of 'em, mostly modified to hell (orig electronix pulled, diff p/u's etc) and usually way beat up.
Travis Beans--1 koa wood, one red beat to shit
White roadcase/briefcase full of gtr tools

we will post more equip info later... thanks in advance for any help...


---Lee/Sonic Youth"

There's another, more specific, list on stolen stuff. Follow this link >>


Sonic Youth's stolen rental truck has turned up in downtown Los Angeles but missing are the customized guitars and equipment that give the band its unique, experimental sound.

Two dozen guitars, a bass, a drum kit and synthesizer, plus amplifiers and accessories, had been in the truck when it was taken Sunday from a Ramada Inn in Orange, Calif.

"The back lock was obviously knocked off, and the back doors were broken," band publicist Perry Serpa said. Serpa said the abandoned truck was discovered Wednesday evening, but he could not say where it was found or by whom.

Police, meanwhile, are continuing to pursue an online-related lead in the case.

On Wednesday, Detective Clark Smith of the Orange Police Department said the thieves were "obviously online," though he would not explain why police suspected so. Smith was unavailable for comment Friday (July 9), but Sgt. Larry Pore, who said he was unable to confirm the truck's discovery, said, "He's waiting for America Online to give him some information."

Word of the theft spread rapidly throughout the band's broad online fanbase after guitarist Lee Ranaldo sent out an e-mail about the incident and asked contacts to pass the information along. On Thursday, Ranaldo posted an update, which was redistributed by the band's longtime friend, bassist Mike Watt (fIREHOSE, Minutemen).

The vehicle "was crowbar'd open, nothing left inside at all," Ranaldo wrote.

Concern for the instruments has run high among music fans because of the unique nature of Sonic Youth's gear.

Members of the New York noise-rock band have spent almost 20 years modifying their guitars' electronics so thoroughly, duplicating the customization with a new set of instruments is virtually impossible. If the equipment goes unrecovered, certain songs and sounds could be lost forever, they have suggested.

"The equipment is as much a part of the band as the members," said Chris Habib, the band's videographer and art director for its Sonic Youth Records label. Many of the group's guitar-effects pedals are test models that never went to production, he said.

America Online spokesperson Kim McCreery said she could not verify whether the nation's largest Internet service provider was working with Orange police. But the company cooperates with local authorities across the country regularly in similar cases, she said.

"If police present us with a subpoena or a court document requesting specific information, that's when our legal team would step in to help," she said.

Taken from SonicNet


Police Pursue Net-Linked Lead In Theft Of Sonic Youth Guitars But detective says efforts to spread word of stolen equipment online may thwart investigation.

Orange, Calif., police said Wednesday (July 7) they are pursuing a lead linked to the Internet as part of their investigation into the theft Sunday of dozens of customized guitars belonging to avant-garde rock band Sonic Youth.

Officials also warned that the hundreds of fans who have been spreading word of the incident online in an effort to support the band could jeopardize the investigation."The people who [stole the equipment] are obviously online, so that could scare them away," said Orange Police Department Detective Clark Smith, who heads the case. He would not elaborate on why the thieves are thought to be connected to the Net.

Taken from SonicNet


A rental truck filled with Sonic Youth's uniquely modified guitars and other equipment was stolen from outside a Ramada Inn in Orange County, Calif., Saturday night, according to an e-mail written by Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo.

The theft has left not only the band's mini-tour of the Southwest in doubt, but also any future live performances of certain songs.

"This is really serious all the gear we've used to write our last few LPs worth of stuff, instruments used for songs old and new," Ranaldo wrote in an e-mail asking for help in recovering the equipment.

"All of our guitars, tools, amplifiers, drums, synth EVERYTHING. We are fucked," he continued.

Sonic Youth publicist Perry Serpa said Tuesday (July 6) that he has received little information about the incident. But the New York band was able to perform at the This Ain't No Picnic festival in Irvine, Calif., Sunday with borrowed equipment, he said.

For years, Sonic Youth have customized or "hot-rodded" in the band's vernacular their guitars not only with odd tunings, but with hardware modifications that render them vastly different from the original instruments. The unique alterations allow the band to write and play live in their experimental style, while rendering the instruments virtually useless to other musicians.

When a particular hot-rodded guitar is lost, the group can no longer play songs written on it because they've forgotten the particular modifications for most of their instruments, guitarist Thurston Moore has said.

"The song has so much to do with the quality of [a given] instrument," Moore said last year. "And once that disappears, the song somewhat disappears."

Longtime friend Mike Watt, who also performed at the This Ain't No Picnic festival, said, "The tragic thing is that there's a lot of years in those instruments their first tours, their first records. But I'm really glad they played, because the idea of punk is mind over machine."

Sonic Youth are scheduled to play at Liberty Lunch in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday and Thursday, and at Site Santa Fe in Santa Fe, N.M., on Saturday. Serpa said it was unclear whether the band would be able to play those shows.

Among the gear stolen was drummer Steve Shelley's Gretsch drum kit, bassist/guitarist Kim Gordon's Fender Precision bass, and a raft of Fender Jazzmaster and Jaguar guitars, along with several amplifiers and the band's collection of guitar tools.

"It wasn't every scrap of equipment [the band owns], but it was a lot of it," Serpa said.

Ranaldo's e-mail did not say where in Orange County the theft occurred, and Serpa said he did not know. Ranaldo did not respond to e-mailed questions by press time.


Internet Tip May Help Nab Musical Thief

ORANGE, Calif. ( -- Police here are hoping a cybertip will help them recover equipment stolen from the musical group Sonic Youth last week, authorities said today.

Sometime Sunday thieves swiped the band's Ryder rental truck, which contained 15 guitars, seven amplifiers, a drum set and a number of objects police would not identify. The theft went unreported until about 7:30 p.m., when the driver noticed it missing.

The truck was recovered in Los Angeles today.

"I don't believe there was any property inside," Orange police Detective Clark Smith told

Loose lips could sacrifice case

Orange police Lt. Jim Anderson said today that the unidentified stolen objects, and the Internet, are playing an important role in the police investigation.

Beyond that, police would not comment on their investigation. Anderson said today that releasing information to the media could "jeopardize the lead we have. We just want to get that stuff back to the band."

Meanwhile, the veteran musical group is sullen over its lost possessions.

Group would buy back

In an e-mail message sent to fans over the weekend, Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo wrote, "All the gear we've used to write our last few [albums] ... if truly lost will mean those songs will be lost forever.

"Our guitars are all mostly older and either very modified and/or beaten up. They are unmistakably ours," the e-mail continued. "If the thieves themselves read this, I'm sure we'd rather buy the stuff back from you than lose it forever."

The equipment was amassed and customized over almost 20 years since the New York-based Sonic Youth first formed, the group's publicist said in a release. Nevertheless, the group says it will continue with its touring schedule using borrowed equipment. Sonic Youth was slated for a show in Austin, Texas, today.

By Pete Brush, an national correspondent.
Yahoo! News

Sonic Youth
Sonic Youth, initially comprising of guitarist / vocalists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, guitarist / bassist / vocalist Kim Gordon and drummer Richard Edson, were formed in New York City in 1981. A product of the No-Wave music scene of the late 1970s, the group had their roots in abrasive, experimental music, with Moore and Ranaldo having previously worked with the experimental composer Glenn Branca. The band were joined in 1985 by drummer Steve Shelley, and have now recorded 14 albums together, as well as many side and solo projects. Their work has been consistently challenging and innovative, and they are widely regarded as one of the most intriguing and influential bands of their time.


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