Newswise — Sonic Youth co-founder and guitarist Lee Ranaldo will receive an honorary Doctor of Music from Binghamton University, State University of New York at a Commencement ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 11. in the Events Center, on campus. 

Ranaldo, who earned a bachelor’s degree in studio art from Binghamton University in 1978, is a musician, visual artist and writer. He co-founded the alternative rock band Sonic Youth and has been a prolific figure in avant-garde music, poetry and art for over four decades.

He began his music career by playing with various bands before forming Sonic Youth in 1981 with Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon. Under his contribution, Sonic Youth played a crucial role in merging experimental music and New York’s no-wave scene with mainstream alternative rock. Critics hailed the band, which influenced a generation of indie-rockers and contributed to the rise of an alternative arts scene encompassing underground films, comics, conceptual art, experimental music and fashion. The band was instrumental in mainstreaming what was once considered “fringe.”

Ranaldo performed with Sonic Youth until 2011, while also pursuing a number of solo projects. In 1987, he released his first solo album, “From Here to Infinity.”

Rolling Stone magazine ranked Ranaldo #33 on its “Greatest Guitarists of All Time” list in 2004, and in 2012, he and Thurston Moore were jointly awarded the #1 spot on SPIN magazine’s top 100 guitarists list.

Ranaldo was nominated for a Grammy award in 2017 for his work on “Music of Morocco From the Library of Congress.” Since then, he has released over 50 recordings as a solo artist, with his band and through collaborations. He has also authored a dozen books on topics such as travel, poetry and art.

Recently, Ranaldo has been performing live with Leah Singer, presenting their Contre-jour performances, which are large-scale, multi-projection sound and light events. In November 2021, he released his solo acoustic composition called “In Virus Times” on Mute Records. Additionally, Sonic Youth released its “Walls Have Ears” album in February 2024 on Goofin’ Records.

Ranaldo has exhibited his art in galleries and museums worldwide. He has also been an artist-in-residence at various institutions, including La Comisión Nacional Evaluadora de la Actividad Investigadora in Paris, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Canada and Villa Arson in Nice, France.

Binghamton University’s Office of the President invites nominations of individuals who represent what the University values and strives to instill in its graduates. Their accomplishments may be scholarly, artistic or a life of outstanding service. Nominees are considered by the President’s Honorary Degree Advisory Committee, the SUNY chancellor, the SUNY Honorary Degree Committee and the SUNY Board of Trustees before honorees are selected. Recipients are recognized with a SUNY honorary degree: Doctor of Fine Arts, Doctor of Humane Letters, Doctor of Laws or Doctor of Science. In awarding honorary degrees, Binghamton University celebrates the recipients’ achievements and claims them as having a special relationship with the University.