You can read the article here. In 1999, Sonic Youth had their van and all of the equipment in it stolen. You can imagine the kind of stuff they had in there, including the unique custom built Moonlander by Yuri Landman. Some of it is, I’m sure, irreplaceable. Well, one of those guitars has been found, ten years later. I actually sold a couple pedals to Jim O’Rourke who was made a member of the group just before this incident, an MXR Blue Box and a DOD Gonkulator. Let’s hope that this leads to more for them.
There is a link to a full list and discussion of the gear. I don’t know if any of the numbers work still, but I’d be remiss if I don’t post it.
Subject: URGENT/SY GEAR STOLEN!
From: email@example.com (Krak kak) Date: Sun, 04 July 1999 03:46 PM EDT
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 “Mascaras66@aol.com”. 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 4×12 cabinet
Fender blackface Concert (4×10) “Target design” spraypainted on front
PeaVey RoadMaster Head
Marshall 4×12 cab
Mesa Boogie 400+ bass head
Fender Bassman head (two!)
–2×12 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…
PLEASE PASS THIS LIST ON TO ANYONE WHO MIGHT BE OF HELP!—Lee/Sonic Youth SY Gear Theft Saga, part 2 austin tx 7.8.99 the truck was found in downtown LA, crowbar’d open, nothing left inside at all…we’ve cobbled together new stuff and the two shows here went pretty well. one more in Santa Fe…at some point a complete list of what was stolen will be posted — it’s gonna be awful hard to replace some of that stuff…thanks to all the votes of sympathy and all the help…—Lee SY 7.12.99
SONIC YOUTH GEAR STOLEN! Hi, if you are reading this you have been identified as a sympathetic party by us or by someone who knows you and us. Sometime between 1 a.m. and 7:15 a.m on July 4th our Ryder truck was stolen from the parking lot of the Ramada Inn, 101 State College Dr. in Orange, CA. This truck contained all of our touring equipment; the list of missing items follows and we would appreciate any help or ideas leading to the recovery of any of it. Some general information: All of the guitars have been adapted specifically for use by Sonic Youth. Most of them will have strange pick ups, none have the original electronics. All have extensive notes about tunings either written on the paint, headstock, or pieces of tape on the body. Drum stands all have tape or hose clamps to mark adjustment heights. The Kick drum has a glow in the dark head with a custom swirl design. This was touring gear, it was all in road cases, and those cases were stencilled Sonic Youth.
Should you hear anything about any of these things or are approached by someone offering to sell them to you please contact either or both of the following: Aaron Blitzstein (GAS Co. East) 212-343-2314 Mascaras66@aol.com Shauna O’Brien (GAS Entertainment Co.) 310-526-1950 firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you very much in advance for whatever help you can provide. Yours, Nic and Luc with SONIC YOUTH 7/12/99
hi Matt, no news since they found the empty truck… still looking and hoping… here’s some answers to yr questions:
1. What made your instruments so unique?
they were unique in that they were customized to our needs in terms of the electronix, and we had ‘hand-chosen’ the various gtrs over the last 15 years or so, and had come up with a group of them that worked really well for our uses–all of which are now gone. same thing for the amplifiers, we have amassed a group of them that worked for our ‘sound’, and now we will start looking (and listening) again.
2. How much does a band like Sonic Youth depend on this gear and can’t you replace it?
we will start again and collect anew. we have already played 4 shows on hastily cobbled together gtrs and the shows went off well–it’s just more of a struggle to use unfamiliar instruments.
3. How will you continue and what will you do if you don’t get your stuff back?
we will go on, buy new gtrs and proceed from there. some gtrs are left behind in our studio which we will take a new look at, and we will replace others, and the amps, pedals, etc which we rely on. in other cases we will find new things, and that might lead to new directions, so that is a promising result of all this bad news. as we are starting out to make new music these days, we will adapt and use new gear…
From: James Bochenek
Subject: stolen back line
Hi: Sorry to hear about your band gear. I can relate. Picture this summer 1978, Holiday Inn, Houston Loop. Park truck, go in sleep, come out truck gone with New Riders of the Purple Sage complete back line including lots of custom guitars. Dave Nelsons’ Telecaster with the Clarence White string bender on it. Buddy Cages’ custom pedal steel hand built by Edmonds or Emmons. (pedal steel guru) The old Grateful dead tie dye amps and speaker cabs. My suitcase with almost all my stuff in it. All of it gone and never seen again. We had to go do a show that night at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin. The band played on the opening acts gear. Next day off to music row in Manhattan to purchase an entire new round of stuff on credit also a new ryder truck from the big lot over in jersey. Back on the road two days later. Never heard so much whining as from the band boys on that one.
It was all our fault. (the “crew” me and my friend dave) Hope you see your stuff again but don’t hold your breath. You would most likely need to go to Mexico to find it.
Just back from brief–tho very eventful!–tour of W coast and SW w SY. did you hear? all our gear stolen in truck fr hotel parking lot in orange county s of LA. EVERYTHING. it’s been all over the net so i assume you may have heard by now. everyone’s generosity and interest has been most wonderful. we have insurance which will pick up a good part of the bill, we hope, but it’s the unique quality of some of our stuff which will be a tedious thing to rebuild/replace. the loss of the actual instruments themselves, which have been lovingly worked over and modified over years, not to mention the selection process by which we arrived at them in the first place. ah well, no-one hurt…probably most identifiable would be the fact that these gtrs are WELL PLAYED (as in mighty beat up) and usually with great electronic modifications–we tend to rip out all the fancy electric knobs and switches, leaving just a volume control and pickup selector switch. Usually 60s Fender Jazzmasters, often with the stock p/u’s replaced with other ones (which no collector would ever do to a 60s Fender, ruins the value immediately…)
The bright side, as I see it, is that a line has been drawn for us in the sand (and thankfully at the beginning of a new round of recording; we are dragged into the future kicking and screaming. we’ll have to find new instruments and look forwards instead of back…
our subsequent 4 shows went very well anyway, on borrowed and hastily purchased replacement gear (mostly not likely to be long term possessions), so there is hope.
regards, and thanks in advance for any help which might come our way,