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Lee M. Ranaldo (born February 3, 1956) is an Americanmarker singer, guitarist, writer and record producer, best known as a co-founder of the rock band Sonic Youth. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Ranaldo and Thurston Moore, of Sonic Youth, the 33rd and 34th Greatest Guitarists of All Time, respectively.


Ranaldo was born in Glen Covemarker, Long Islandmarker, New York, and graduated from Binghamton Universitymarker. Ranaldo started his career in New York in several bands and joining the orchestra of Glenn Branca. Among Ranaldo's solo records are Dirty Windows, a collection of spoken texts with music, Amarillo Ramp , pieces for the guitar, and Scriptures of the Golden Eternity. His books include several with art or photography by Leah Singer, including Drift, Bookstore, Road Movies, and Moroccan Journal: Jajouka excerpt from a full-length book of writings on Moroccanmarker travels and music. Ranaldo has also published Jrnls80s (published by Soft Skull Press), as well as a book of poems, Lengths & Breaths, with photography by Cynthia Connolly. His most recent book of poetry, Hello From the American Desert, was published by The Silver Wonder Press in November 2007 with artwork by Curt Kirkwood. Recent visual work has been included in exhibitions at the Hayward Gallerymarker in London, the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art and Mercer Unionmarker in Toronto.

Ranaldo has produced albums for artists including Babes in Toyland, You Am I, Magik Markers, Deity Guns, and Dutchmarker art rock-ensemble Kleg. He has edited a volume of tour journals from the 1995 Lollapalooza Tour written by Thurston Moore, Beck, Stephen Malkmus, Courtney Love, and others. Ranaldo has also worked with jazz drummer William Hooker on improvised music, and reading and improvising poetry.

In 2007 Ranaldo collaborated with British rock band The Cribs on their third album Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever. The track "Be Safe" is a Ranaldo spoken word piece performed by the artist, and backed with the Cribs music.

Ranaldo made an appearance in the 2008 feature documentary by Nik Sheehan about Brion Gysin and the Dreamachine entitled FLicKeR.

He has three sons, Cody Linn Ranaldo, Sage Ranaldo and Frey Ranaldo and is married to the experimental artist Leah Singer, with whom he has performed many live installation pieces with improvised music under the name Drifting.


Ranaldo usually uses Fender Jazzmaster, Telecaster Deluxe electric guitars and sometimes Gibson Les Paul's, with radically alternative tunings, and modifications. One of his Jazzmasters (built by a fan in 1990 when he described the design) has a single coil pickup installed between the bridge and the tailpiece to exploit the resonating chiming sounds on that area of string at these so called tailed bridge guitars.

In 2007 Yuri Landman built for Ranaldo the Moonlander, a biheaded electric guitar with 18 strings: 6 normal strings and 12 sympathetic strings.

Since Ranaldo and Moore, together with Elvis Costello and J. Mascis, are known for being key figures in the popularisation and resurrection of the Fender Jazzmaster, Fender introduced in 2009 a special Lee Ranaldo signature edition of a transparent blue version, together with a transparent green one for Thurston.

Printed works

  • Bookstore and Others (Paperback) - Lee Ranaldo, Leah Singer, Hozomeen Press (April 1995), ISBN 978-1885175069

  • Drift (Paperback) - Lee Ranaldo, Leah Singer, Gigantic ArtSpace (2005), ISBN 978-1933045344

  • Ground Zero: New Yorkers Respond (Paperback) - Lee Ranaldo, David Amram, Frank Messina, Wasteland Press (August 15, 2002), ISBN 978-0971581173

  • JRNLS80s (Paperback) - Lee Ranaldo, Soft Skull Press (1998), ISBN 978-1887128315

  • Lengths & Breaths (Paperback) - Lee Ranaldo, Cynthia Connolly, Water Row Press (August 2004), ISBN 978-0934953795

  • Moroccan Journal (Hardcover) - Lee Ranaldo, Fringecore (1999), ISBN 978-9076207520

  • Moroccan Journal: Jajouka excerpt (Unknown Binding) - Lee Ranaldo, Leah Singer, Ring Tarigh for the Literary Renaissance (1997), ASIN: B0006RJF80

  • Online Diaries : the Lollapalooza '95 tour journals (Paperback) - Beck, Courtney Love, Stephen Malkmus, Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, Mike Watt, David Yow, Soft Skull Press (1996), ISBN 978-1887128209

  • Road Movies (Paperback) - Lee Ranaldo, Leah Singer, Soft Skull Press (Nov 30, 2004), ISBN 978-1932360738

Discography - solo recordings


  1. [1] Pitchfork interview with Yuri Landman

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