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On June 23, 1962, Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley was born in Midland, Michigan.

Shelley joined the alt-rock legends in 1985, replacing previous drummer Bob Bert. Shelley has also drummed for The Crucifucks, The Million Dollar Bashers, Ron Asheton from the Stooges, Sun Kil Moon, and many others.

When not behind the kit, Shelley has also founded record labels (Smells Like Records) and served as a producer for the likes of Cat Power (Shelley drummed on her first few albums as well) and Blonde Redhead.

As a versatile drummer with a punk sensibility, Shelley brings a stampeding momentum to his sets, though he’s just as at home in more restrained, reflective grooves.

As Sonic Youth singer Thurston Moore put it, “[Shelley] had a certain physicality about him and he wasn’t a too-cool-for-school no-waver.”

Enjoy the dynamism of Shelley’s drumming with the following clips, including “100%” above from Sonic Youth’s 1992 album, Dirty.


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Sonic Youth – “Incinerate”

From 2006’s Rather Ripped

Sonic Youth – “Superstar”

From the Juno soundtrack, 2008.

Cat Power – “Rockets”

From 1995’s Dear Sir.

The Crucifucks – “Hinkley Had A Vision”

From their self-titled 1985 album.

Sonic Youth – “Kool Thing”

From 1990’s Goo.

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