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Trevor Rabin

From Academic Kids

Trevor Rabin (born Trevor Charles Rabin on January 13, 1954 is a South African guitarist and film composer, best known for being the guitarist and writer for the band Yes from 1983 - 1995, and since then, as a film composer.

Contents

Early years

He is from a respected family of classical musicians in Johannesburg, South Africa. Educated at a public school in Johannesburg, Trevor took formal piano training before discovering the guitar at age 12. His parents encouraged his talents toward rock music, although Rabin would continue to demonstrate a certain level of classical virtuosity throughout his career. After briefly taking classical composition at university, Rabin concentrated on his musical career.

Trevor Rabin's early rock influences included Cliff Richard and the Shadows, the Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix. However, he dabbled with progressive and heavy rock, as evidenced by his first bands, The Conglomeration and Freedom's Children. The latter were older musicians whose songs questioned the South African government, especially its racial policy of apartheid.

Although it would be overstatement to portray Trevor Rabin as an activist musician, he seems to have had strong sympathies with civil rights. His cousin, the late Donald Woods, was a newspaper editor and political activist who became close friends with Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko. Some of Rabin's more mature songs have expressed concerns for his home country. However, success in South Africa's music scene meant leaving the political message in the background. And so it was, with Trevor Rabin's first major recording group, Rabbitt (1974-1978).

Rabbitt began just prior to Rabin's term of military conscription in 1974, but it really took off in 1976. Their first single, a slightly bowdlerised cover of Jethro Tull's "Locomotive Breath," came out in 1975. It became a centerpiece of their hugely successful debut album, Boys Will Be Boys, which featured more original songs penned by Trevor Rabin and Duncan Faure. The band has been characterised as South Africa's answer to the Beatles. The four members of Rabbitt were considered handsome, and were often followed by teenage girls, in a "Rabbitt-mania," of sorts.

A Croak and a Grunt in the Night (1977) revealed slightly more ambitious compositions. Trevor Rabin also co-produced Croak, winning a South African counterpart to the Grammy for his efforts. Momentum gained with a record distribution deal with Capricorn in the United States, but Rabbitt were unable to tour abroad because of continuing international disapproval of South Africa's apartheid policies. As a result, Trevor Rabin decided to leave South Africa. After recording one album without Trevor Rabin, Rabbitt disbanded that same year.

Moving to London, Trevor Rabin recorded a solo album, Beginnings (1978), released in England as Trevor Rabin.

The UK

By 1979, Rabin emigrated to Britain, where he began his career as producer and session player. Some of his prominent work included South African vocalist Margaret Singana ("Where Is The Love") and fellow expatriate, Manfred Mann and his Earth Band. Rabin still found time to record Face to Face, touring England in support of Steve Hillage in early 1980.

Neither Trevor Rabin nor its follow-up succeeded commercially, although they enhanced his reputation for versatile songwriting and tasteful guitar melodies. With the advent of punk in the late '70s, Trevor Rabin began looking for more fertile ground for what would be characterised in the U.S. as Album Oriented Rock AOR, album-oriented rock music.

With 1981's Wolf, Rabin severed ties with Chrysalis Records. His third album featured some of his best guitar performances, and it benefited from the co-producer, Ray Davies of The Kinks. Wolf marked Rabin's collaboration with bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Simon Phillips, whose presence underscored Rabin's potential within a band format. However, Rabin would move to Los Angeles to sign with David Geffen. Rabin briefly considered joining the supergroup Asia, featuring former Yes members Steve Howe and Geoffrey Downes, but the project did not interest him. Although Geffen Records dropped him in 1982, Trevor Rabin kept composing material for a projected fourth solo album.

Yes

While in Los Angeles, Trevor Rabin met bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White, who had experienced their own difficulties following the apparent demise of Yes. They began recording as Cinema in 1981, enlisting original Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye to complement their live performances. Producer by Trevor Horn, the album would take 8 months to complete. During his searching period, Trevor Rabin had written a catchy riff-oriented song that might have stood out anywhere. Trevor Horn seized upon "Owner of a Lonely Heart" as a potential single, but questioned whether Rabin should sing it. Rabin's voice, although very pleasant, never possessed dynamic qualities such as those of Jon Anderson, who was invited to rejoin Yes in 1983 at the closing moments of the recording of 90125. Even so, Rabin's vocal harmonies remained an asset to the band's history, and he would share lead vocals with Anderson on several songs.

90125, taken from the Atlantic Records catalog number, sold more copies than any previous Yes album. This success was helped by the number-one smash, "Owner of a Lonely Heart," a melancholy reading by Jon Anderson, backed by Rabin's Kinks-inspired guitar riffs. MTV rotation of "Owner" and its tuneful follow-up "Leave It", carried 90125 to six million sales between 1983-85. Yes also received a Grammy for the instrumental "Cinema", which proved their sterling musicianship also remained a priority.

The band also toured behind the album, in a series of well-received concerts. In England and North America, some die-hard fans expressed their dislike of Trevor Rabins influence on the band. But, for Rabin's part, he had been reluctant to reform Yes. Moreover, many younger fans were introduced to the earlier Yes catalog because of the success of the 90125 album. Finally, it can be argued that Yes would never have made a comeback in the 1980s without Trevor Rabin.

In 1986, Yes began recording their next album with Trevor Horn, but the production became bogged down with artistic differences and drugs. Eventually, the Big Generator album debuted in 1987, with Trevor Rabin assuming studio control. The singles "Love Will Find a Way" and "Rhythm of Love" were modest chart hits compared to 90125. Still, this album is considered more 'progressive' by Yes standards, and did sell two million copies, in what would be the band's last commercial success in the rapidly changing musical climate.

While Yes members, old and new, quarreled over the Yes name in the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe controversy, Trevor Rabin completed his fourth and last to date solo album, Can't Look Away, released in 1989. It featured lead single "Something to Hold On To," which garnered a Grammy for Best Music Video. But, apart from sporadic airplay, neither "Something to Hold on To", nor the anti-apartheid ballad "Sorrow (Your Heart)" managed to crack the fickle American charts. However, Trevor Rabin toured in 1989.. This tour, one of Rabin's favorites, has since been documented by the 2003 Live in L.A. album.

In 1991, Yes reformed with a short-lived eight-man lineup under the Union album. Arista, the label responsible for ABWH, took on the project. During the prosperous tour, Trevor Rabin shared the stage with Steve Howe, albeit with some tensions between the two guitarists. Union had four songs with Trevor Rabin's credits, including the singles "Lift Me Up" and "Saving My Heart". However, Rabin's best work is represented by the lyrical composition "Miracle of Life", which sounded as if it could have been included on Big Generator.

1992-93 marked a series of negotiations between the short-lived Victory label and the so-called Yes West. Phil Carson, responsible for Emerson, Lake & Palmer's comeback in 1992, invited the Yes 90125 lineup to record a third album. Trevor Rabin produced Talk, which used an innovative hard-disk recording method now in common use in many recording studios.

Talk featured the collaboration between Rabin and Jon Anderson, who had hitherto completed the last few albums after the principal writing. With the exception of a couple filler tracks, the album represents a fusion between old and new Yes. Despite the lineup's best performance on tour, Talk failed to sell as expected, because the AOR radio format had become moribund. "The Calling" failed to catch interest as single material, despite its vintage Yes stamp. No videos were made to promote the new album. Many Yes fans, old and new, list Endless Dream (from the "Talk" album), as one of group's best songs.

Post-Yes

Following the 1995 tour, Trevor Rabin resigned from Yes to become a soundtrack composer.

Trevor Rabin had served as guitarist-composer for one of progressive rock's flagship bands. Yet, after 14 years of recording, he only appeared on three and one half albums. However, the Rabin albums have sold more than all other YES albums combined. Since Rabin's departure, the band has changed its keyboardists four times. Significantly, none of the later Yes albums have enjoyed much success, despite the return of the "classic" line-up. Their worldwide fan-base remains quite vital, however.

Significantly, Trevor Rabin has been a U.S. citizen since 1991. In 1996, he visited his native South Africa and performed Yes and Rabbitt songs during the Prince's Trust Concert. Trevor Rabin released demo versions of pre-90125 Yes compositions and solo work, entitled 90124, as well as Live in LA, recorded at the Roxy in LA in 1989. Most recently, aside from his film work, Trevor Rabin performed at the Princess Trust with YES in London, at the Wembley Arena, where he served as lead guitarist and lead singer.

Trevor Rabin has scored over 2 dozen films which include: Con Air, Homegrown, Armageddon, Enemy of the State, Jack frost, Deep Blue Sea, Gone in 60 Seconds, Remember the Titans, The 6th Day, Banger Sisters, Kangaroo Jack, Bad Boys 2, The Great Raid, The Exorcist, National Treasure, Coach Carter.

Along with many Grammy nominations and one win, Trevor Rabin also has received 8 BMI film score awards, and has received a lifetime achievement award from the Temecula film festival. He has been married for two decades to Shelley Rabin. They have one son, Ryan Rabin, who recently began his own promising career as a rock drummer in Los Angeles.

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