‘It’s in My DNA’: How Thurston Moore, the Godfather of Indie Music, Became a Rock ‘n’ Roll Snowbird in Miami

On a serene South Florida spring afternoon, Thurston Moore, the legendary guitarist and co-founder of the radically innovative indie-rock band Sonic Youth, is unwinding in the shade of a poolside cabana at the luxurious Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. This spot, a cherished locale in the town of his birth, is where the gangly, 6’6” Moore lounges on a sofa in jeans and a short-sleeve shirt. As a TV broadcasts scenes of a solar eclipse from across the continent, his wife, Eva Prinz, and 12-year-old stepson Jules enjoy the vast Biltmore pool, which they have all to themselves today.

Above, flocks of sparrows and parrots chirp and squawk in the palm trees, while lizards peek out from the underbrush. The South Florida sun beams through a slight halo of clouds, humidity, or perhaps the eclipse—it’s hard to tell. “Look at that,” Moore deadpans gleefully, glancing at the TV screen showing eclipse-hunters in the snowy landscapes of New England. “We would be up in the snow in Vermont right now. Instead, we’re down in Dade County.”

The posh Biltmore may seem an unlikely milieu for Moore, who emerged from the gritty, arty post-punk noise-music scene of downtown Manhattan in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Moore co-founded Sonic Youth in 1981 with artist Kim Gordon, who played bass. The band, characterized by clamorous guitars in unconventional tunings, squalls of dissonance, and edgy melodic appeal, sounded like nothing else, then and now. They were resolutely experimental and countercultural, with lyrics ranging from snide to poetic. Critics likened their sound to a New York subway train screeching to a stop at a station. Sonic Youth’s unflagging devotion to their discordant aesthetic turned Moore and Gordon into the revered godparents of alternative and indie rock, laying the foundation for grunge and bands like Nirvana, who Sonic Youth took on tour when they were virtually unknown.

Eleanor met Moore’s father, George Moore, a classical musician and professor of art and philosophy, at the University of Miami’s music school. Born at Doctor’s Hospital, Thurston attended Epiphany Catholic School, where the sisters once washed out his mouth with “holy soap,” before moving in 1967 at age 9 with his parents and two siblings from the Ponce-Davis neighborhood to western Connecticut, where his father secured a university teaching job.

Now, at 65 and more than a decade removed from Sonic Youth, Moore—whose subsequent solo career has been no less sonically deviant—returns home every winter with Prinz. For several years, they have quietly integrated into what he describes in his memoir as the “charmed and enchanted enclave” of Coral Gables and surrounding Miami. Moore and Prinz explore the city’s cultural offerings, frequenting places like Books & Books and Miami’s eclectic record shops. Moore, an avid collector of vinyl, poetry books, fanzines, and ephemera, and Prinz, an art-book editor, have also become fixtures at Miami Heat home games. They enjoy dining at their favorite ethnic and neighborhood spots, socializing with friends and family, and contributing to the local music scene by issuing records from Miami bands Seafoam Walls and Las Nubes on their independent label, Daydream Library Series.

The couple lives in London during the summer and fall but has taken over a rental home in North Gables from the late Eleanor, who returned to the city in her later years. Without a car, they rely on bikes or rides from friends to get around. As Moore likes to say, the city is in his DNA. Call him a rock ’n’ roll snowbird.

“When Eva and I came down here to visit my mom when she was renting a house here, Eva fell in love with it,” Moore said. “This is a really diverse city. And it has…” “The best coffee on the planet,” chimes in Prinz, joining Moore in the cabana. Moore continues, “The tropics, nature, it’s just… she was, ‘I love it down here.’ I was, ‘You don’t have to tell me.’”

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