Goo album cover, artwork by Raymond Pettibon - © The artist and Sonic Youth

Five artists who have rocked with Sonic Youth
As told to Hardeep Phull
Richard Kern
Lee Ranaldo: “We were turned onto him in our early period – around 1984 or 1985. He was working on the same kind of indie scale as we were and he had a fascination with gore films. He was doing those special effects on a very low budget in his early films and that’s what led to the ‘Death Valley 69’ video. He was most interested in the scenes that made us look like we were blown away, with our intestines hanging out and so on. We also liked his dry, cynical sense of humour which added to the kinship we felt with him.”
Richard Prince
Kim Gordon: “I’ve known Richard since the early 1980s when I was doing some work that was similar to his idea of appropriating advertising images. His work has been in my consciousness since then. His cover for Sonic Nurse works really well in the way the image has come from pop culture (pulp novels) and been taken into the art world and then goes back into pop culture through the album.”
Gerhard Richter
Kim Gordon: “Initially, I was friends with Gerhard’s then wife Isa Genzken, who was living in New York for a while during the early 1980s. We met through Dan Graham. It was actually Thurston who suggested we ask Gerhard to use one of his paintings for the Daydream Nation album. I would have been far too intimidated to ask because he was such an idol for me. Being an East German, I think he has a certain scepticism about western capitalism, so I wasn’t sure if he would be into the idea of mixing the two worlds. If it wasn’t for his wife, I don’t think he would have gone for the idea of having his work on a record cover.”
Raymond Pettibon
Thurston Moore: “Raymond was always someone who was exciting to us because he was publishing these small, stapled books in the early 1980s. He distributed them through SST records as though he was a band doing 7″ records which no one else was doing in the music world. He was involved with Black Flag, who were the main proponents of hardcore music at that time, and what made them interesting beyond the music was the visual content that Raymond provided them with. His work was very telling and very smart. We started doing records with SST and it was only a matter of time before we did something with Raymond. It was just ironic that the time finally came when we were on a major label. We thought it was a perfect time to do it because we could keep that connection.”
William S. Burroughs
Thurston Moore: “For NYC Ghosts & Flowers I had a print of that X-ray image and I thought it would be a great cover partly because the title was related to the lineage of poets and writers. We had visited [Burroughs] a couple of times in Lawrence, Kansas before he died too – one time we went down there with Michael Stipe when we were on tour with REM. He [Burroughs] was always important to me and my discovering of radical literature when I was younger. Patti Smith would talk about him and I would see him get referenced in rock magazines, so finally I started buying his paperbacks and was blown away at the language and the construction. It was kind of like rock ‘n’ roll in a way.”
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