Trevor Rabin

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Trevor Rabin
Trevor Rabin.jpg
Trevor Rabin live with Yes in 1994
Background information
Birth name Trevor Charles Rabin
Born (1954-01-13) 13 January 1954 (age 61)
Johannesburg, South Africa
Genres Progressive rock, pop, rock, classical
Occupation(s) Musician, guitarist,pianist,orchestrator,songwriter, producer, film composer
Instruments Guitar, keyboards, bass guitar, vocals
Years active 1972–present
Labels Chrysalis, Capricorn, RPM, Voiceprint, Elektra, Varèse Sarabande, Hollywood, Jet, Atco, One-Way
Associated acts Yes, Rabbitt, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Mr. Mister, Roger Hodgson
Notable instruments
*Westone Pantera Trevor Rabin Signature'
*Alvarez Trevor Rabin Signature
*Washburn Parallaxe PXMTR20
*Fender Stratocaster

Trevor Charles Rabin (born 13 January 1954) is a South African-born musician, songwriter and film composer. As a musician, he is best known for his time as the guitarist and vocalist for British progressive rock band Yes from 1982 to 1994, when he left the band to pursue a film composer career.[1] Trevor's songs are represented by Downtown Music Publishing.

Early years[edit]

Rabin was born into a family of classical musicians in Johannesburg, South Africa, where his father Godfrey was lead violinist for the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and also a lawyer.[2] Educated at Parktown Boys' High School in Johannesburg, he took formal piano training before discovering the guitar at age 12. He joined one of his first bands, The Other, when he was 13.[3] His parents encouraged his talents toward rock music, although Rabin would maintain his interest in classical music throughout his career. Rabin also briefly studied orchestration at the University of Johannesburg and trained to be a conductor;[2] he later arranged and conducted for many artists in South Africa.

Rabin's early influences included Arnold Schoenberg, Tchaikovsky, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. He also dabbled with progressive and heavy rock with his first band, The Conglomeration, as well as joining the prominent anti-apartheid rock band Freedom's Children for a year in 1972. During this same period, Rabin became a highly sought after session guitarist and bassist, playing with many jazz bands in South Africa. When Rabin fulfilled his obligation to the South African Army at age 19, he served with the entertainment division.

Rabin formed his first major recording group, Rabbitt, along with Neil Cloud (drums), Ronnie Robot (bass guitar), and Duncan Faure (keyboards, guitar, vocals). Rabbitt evolved from The Conglomeration prior to Rabin's year of military conscription in 1973. The band started to gain popularity in 1975 after appearing at Johannesburg's "Take It Easy" club. Their first single, released in 1972, was a cover of Jethro Tull's "Locomotive Breath",[4] which later appeared on their debut album, Boys Will Be Boys released on Jo'Burg Records in 1975. The album features original songs mostly penned by Rabin.[5]

Rabbitt's second album, A Croak and a Grunt in the Night, was released in 1977.[6] Rabin went on to win a South African Sarie music award (that country's answer to the Grammy Awards) for his co-production on the album, and the band won a Sarie for Best Contemporary Music Artist in 1976 and 1977.[7] The band then gained with a short-term 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. Rabbitt went on to record the album, Rock Rabbitt without Rabin before disbanding in 1978.

Rabin recorded his first solo album Beginnings in 1977 featuring Trevor on all instruments save drums. After an initial South African release on RPM Records it was re-sequenced with new material and given a different cover for release in England and the US simply as Trevor Rabin (Re-issued on CD in 2003 by Voiceprint Records under the original title). While some songs were reminiscent of Rabbitt, Rabin's guitar playing was more prominent as it would continue to be on his successive solo albums.

Beginning in 1977, Rabin fronted various disco-oriented studio projects, including Disco Rock Machine, which released two albums Time To Love and Disco Rock Machine 2 in South Africa and continental Europe[8] as well as The Tee Cee's and Slang. Rabin acted as producer, arranger, songwriter, guitarist and keyboard player for these projects.

Rabin relocated to London in 1978 after establishing the production company Blue Chip Music and struck an international deal with Chrysalis Records.

In transition: the UK and Los Angeles[edit]

Along with a budding solo career, Rabin began working as a producer, having already begun his career as a session player at age 16. Some of his prominent work included South African vocalist Margaret Singana ("Where Is The Love?"), fellow South African expatriate Manfred Mann and his Earth Band, and Wild Horses, featuring former members of Thin Lizzy and Rainbow. Rabin still found time to record his second album Face to Face, touring the United Kingdom in support of Steve Hillage in late 1979.

Face to Face had the melodic guitar style of his first solo album, but also took a more hard-edged approach on such songs as "The Ripper" and "Now". Rolling Stone's first edition of their Record Guide criticised Rabin's music for its hook-ridden ballads but still gave his first two albums good ratings for their overall technical qualities.

In 1981, he released the album Wolf, co-produced with Ray Davies of The Kinks. Manfred Mann's Earth Band members Chris Thompson and Manfred Mann made vocal and musical contributions to the album. Wolf marks Rabin's first collaboration with former Cream bassist Jack Bruce and session drummer Simon Phillips. Following the release of the album, Rabin severed ties with Chrysalis Records as he felt they did little to promote the album.

In 1981, Rabin moved to Los Angeles and signed with Geffen Records. He briefly recorded new material with a rhythm section consisting of future Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali and bassist Mark Andes, who would later join Heart. Most of these demo recordings developed into the Yes songs "that made up most of 90125.. Hold On, Owner of a lonely heart, Changes, Hearts, City of love.

Although Geffen Records dropped his contract in 1982, Trevor Rabin kept composing material for his projected fourth solo album in Los Angeles. As a keyboardist, he also considered touring as a session player for Foreigner. Rabin was to have been part of a proposed supergroup with future Asia members John Wetton and Carl Palmer and also ex-Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman.[9]


In 1980, he met bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White, longtime members of Yes, who had experienced difficulties following the apparent demise of the band in 1981. Liking one another's ideas, Rabin, Squire and White began collaborating under the name Cinema in early 1982. Later on they enlisted original Yes vocalist Jon Anderson, and keyboardist Tony Kaye to complement their live performances.

During his time in Los Angeles, Rabin had written several songs that formed the project's nucleus. "Owner of a Lonely Heart" evolved into a riff-oriented song that became a number one single throughout the world.

Both "Owner of a Lonely Heart" and "Leave It" became major hits, with "Owner" being the band's only #1 single in most major markets including the U.S. Along with heavy airplay of several other tracks, this helped propel 90125 to six million sales between 1983 and 1985, making it the most commercially successful of all Yes albums. Yes also received a Grammy award in 1984 for the instrumental "Cinema". The band toured behind the album, in a series of well-received concerts across Europe and the Americas. In England and North America, many younger fans were introduced to the earlier Yes catalogue because of the success of the 90125 album and its popular singles. 90125 has to date sold over 10 million albums, and the band's tours of 1984 and 1985 remain the band's most successful period.

Rabin almost did not make the 90125 tour, because of a swimming accident in Florida before the 1984 tour kicked off. According to interviews from the period, Rabin was injured severely when a large woman hit his midsection while jumping into a hotel swimming pool. He endured an emergency splenectomy and returned to Yes in time to begin the tour.

9012Live debuted as a live album and video package, taken from the group's 1984 shows in Edmonton, Canada and Dortmund, Germany. On the former recording, Trevor Rabin contributed his acoustic guitar solo, "Solly's Beard". During this time he also appeared as a session guitarist for Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Seal, Bob Dylan and others.

Big Generator emerged in late 1987, with singles "Love Will Find a Way" and "Rhythm of Love." Both were modest chart hits compared to the singles from 90125, though the album sold very well. The song "Shoot High, Aim Low" featured a dual lead vocal between Rabin and Jon Anderson. The 1988 Big Generator tour of the U.S. missed several dates after Rabin collapsed from influenza.

After the tour, Anderson left Yes for the second time, though his departure would prove short-lived. Trevor also explored different avenues working with Supertramp singer and leader Roger Hodgson. During this time, Rabin completed his fourth solo album (which was to be his last for over 20 years), Can't Look Away, released in 1989. The album's lead single, "Something to Hold on To", earned a Grammy nomination for Best Short Form Music Video and topped the AOR charts for several weeks. Rabin toured between 1989 and 1990 with drummer Lou Molino III (one of Rabin's best friends and a featured player on his soundtracks), fretless bassist Jim Simmons and keyboardist Mark Mancina. The nationwide Can't Look Away tour resulted in a live album Live in LA, featuring interpretations of 1980s Yes material, as well as highlights from his Wolf album. Rabin's solo band also performed an instrumental version of a 90125 outtake, "You Know Something I Don't Know". On this tour, Rabin also unveiled part of "Lift Me Up", which would become the lead single for Union.

Rabin received a call from Jon Anderson in 1991. After a gold album and lucrative tour, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe's (ABWH) second album for Arista had encountered a creative block. Anderson asked Rabin for creative input, but after Can't Look Away, Rabin did not have new material on-hand. Even so, he submitted a demo of three songs, thinking the record company would select one. Instead, all three were accepted: "Lift Me Up", "Saving My Heart" and "Miracle of Life". Arista subsequently made what Rabin later described as a "42nd floor boardroom decision," and brought both Yes line-ups together — although at no point did the recording of Union simultaneously feature all eight members of the touring group, and its sessions were augmented by a small army of session musicians. Rabin only appeared on one-third of the album, although two of his songs were released as singles – "Lift Me Up" and "Saving My Heart" – which were also performed live on the tour, on alternating dates. Rabin's songs were performed by Rabin, Squire, White, Kaye and Anderson, while all the non Rabin material featured session musicians, as the producer was unhappy with the playing of ABWH. A long tour followed where Rabin developed a lasting friendship with Rick Wakeman, often accompanying his keyboard performances onstage.

Soon after the tour, Victory records approached the band to do an album with the 90125 line up-with Trevor Rabin as the producer. Talk featured the final collaboration between Rabin and Anderson, who had hitherto completed the last few albums after the principal writing. "Walls" was a collaboration between Rabin and Roger Hodgson, songwriter formerly of fellow progressive rock band Supertramp. It was a rock radio hit for the band, reaching No. 24 on Billboard's Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. It also became Yes' second-to-last charting single.[10] Rabin and Hodgson wrote a lot of material together and became close friends.[10] "Endless Dream" would become something of a fan favourite,

Ultimately, the Talk tour ended on 11 October 1994 amid recriminations. By the end of the following year, Rabin had left Yes and, except for a small number of special events such as a tribute to Horn, has not played with the band since. In 2008, Trevor was contacted by Yes members and their new management inviting him to tour with the band in the later part of the year. "I appreciate the invite and miss the excitement of playing live. Unfortunately, my schedule just does not allow for it this year," Trevor was quoted as saying.

Since 2011, Rabin has periodically been reported to be collaborating with Anderson and Wakeman on a new Anderson-Wakeman-Rabin album. The trio unsuccessfully attempted to recruit Bill Bruford to drum on the album.[11][12] At one point it was hoped the album would be completed by the end of 2011 with a tour the following year, but all three musicians' busy schedules have prevented this from happening; there has been no announcement of a release date as of March 2014.


Following the 1994 tour, Trevor Rabin resigned from Yes to become a soundtrack composer.

Trevor Rabin has been a naturalised US citizen since 1991. In 1996, he visited his native South Africa and performed Yes and Rabbitt songs during the Prince's Trust Concert. In 2003 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 Los Angeles in late 1989. In 2004 Rabin performed in aid of the Prince's Trust with Yes at the Wembley Arena in London, where he served as lead guitarist and lead singer. The show was a tribute to producer Trevor Horn. The concert DVD is called Slaves to the Rhythm.

Trevor Rabin has scored over three dozen films which include: Bad Company, Con Air, Homegrown, Armageddon, Jack Frost (in which Rabin appeared onscreen in two scenes), Deep Blue Sea, Gone in 60 Seconds, Remember the Titans, The 6th Day, The Banger Sisters, Kangaroo Jack, Bad Boys II, The Great Raid, Exorcist: The Beginning, National Treasure, Coach Carter, Glory Road, Snakes on a Plane, The Glimmer Man, Flyboys, Gridiron Gang, Hot Rod, The Guardian, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Get Smart, Race to Witch Mountain, 12 Rounds, G-Force, and The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Max.

Along with several Grammy nominations and one Grammy win, Trevor Rabin also has received eleven BMI film score awards, and has received a lifetime achievement award from the Temecula Film Festival. His composition "Titans Spirit" from Remember the Titans has been frequently featured in NBC's closing montage and credits for their Olympics coverage. It was also played following United States President-Elect Barack Obama's speech upon winning the 2008 US Presidential Election, and served as the backdrop for the ensuing celebration. Rabin also composed the theme for TNT's coverage of the National Basketball Association in 2009 and the theme for NCAA's March Madness in 2011 (the latter being a remix of the longtime CBS college basketball theme).

Rabin composed the score for Disney's Mission: Space attraction at Epcot.

Trevor Rabin appeared in an instructional guitar video titled Instructional DVD for Guitar • Trevor Rabin, for Star Licks Productions.

On 9 July 2010 Rabin accompanied Yes for the first time in 6 years at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles and played the encore, "Owner of a Lonely Heart".

On 23 June 2011 Rabin was awarded at the 26th Annual ASCAP Film & Television Music Awards in the Top Box Office Films category for The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

Rabin's all-instrumental solo album Jacaranda was released on 8 May 2012 through Varèse Sarabande.[13] Rabin plays all of the instruments himself, with the exception of drums, for which he brought in noted jazz/rock drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, longtime Rabin drummer and collaborator Lou Molino III, and his son Ryan. Tal Wilkenfeld plays bass on track 3 and Liz Constantine is the vocalist on track 6.[14]

On 28 June 2012 Rabin was presented with the Henry Mancini Award at the 27th Annual ASCAP Film & Television Music Awards. Rabin also performed Owner of a Lonely Heart with his son's band Grouplove.[15]

On 20 February 2014, Rabin announced (via his Facebook page)he was working on a new solo album and that, "this next album is more in line with Can't look away/Talk/90125 etc." No release date has been announced.


Rabin names Bernard Herrmann as his favourite score composer.[2] He has named Arnold Schoenberg as one of his favourite classical composers, and him and other classical composers – Beethoven, Sibelius, Elgar and Tchaikovsky – as influences. He names Jimi Hendrix, Steve Morse, Jeff Beck, and John McLaughlin as his favourite guitarists.

Personal life[edit]

Rabin has been married for over three decades to Shelley May. They reside in Los Angeles and have one son, Ryan Rabin, who was a drummer for The Anthem and The Outline, and is currently in the band Grouplove.

Rabin's father was from a Jewish family and Rabin's mother converted to Judaism.[16] He was raised Jewish and in a 2004 interview explained the profound influence Judaism has had on his life.[17]


With Rabbitt[edit]

  • Boys Will Be Boys (1975)
  • A Croak and A Grunt in the Night (1977)
  • Morning Light (maxi-single) (1977)
  • 1972–1978: Limited Souvenir Edition (EP) (1978)

With Yes[edit]

Solo albums[edit]

Film scores[edit]

Year Title Director(s) Studio(s) Notes
1976 Death of a Snowman Christopher Rowley Martin Wragge Production N/A
1996 The Glimmer Man John Gray Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
1997 Con Air Simon West Touchstone Pictures with Mark Mancina
1998 Homegrown Stephen Gyllenhaal TriStar Pictures N/A
Armageddon Michael Bay Touchstone Pictures with Harry Gregson-Williams[18]
Enemy of the State Tony Scott Touchstone Pictures with Harry Gregson-Williams
Jack Frost Troy Miller Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
1999 Deep Blue Sea Renny Harlin Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
2000 Whispers: An Elephant's Tale Dereck Joubert Walt Disney Pictures N/A
Gone in 60 Seconds Dominic Sena Touchstone Pictures N/A
Remember the Titans Boaz Yakin Walt Disney Pictures N/A
The 6th Day Roger Spottiswoode Columbia Pictures N/A
2001 American Outlaws Les Mayfield Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
Rock Star Stephen Herek Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
The One James Wong Columbia Pictures N/A
Texas Rangers Steve Miner Miramax Films
Dimension Films
2002 Bad Company Joel Schumacher Touchstone Pictures N/A
The Banger Sisters Bob Dolman Fox Searchlight Pictures N/A
2003 Kangaroo Jack David McNally Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
Bad Boys II Michael Bay Columbia Pictures with Dr. Dre and Steve Jablonsky
2004 Torque Joseph Kahn Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
Exorcist: The Beginning Renny Harlin Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
National Treasure Jon Turteltaub Walt Disney Pictures N/A
2005 Coach Carter Thomas Carter Paramount Pictures N/A
Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist Paul Schrader Warner Bros. Pictures with Angelo Badalamenti and Dog Fashion Disco
The Great Raid John Dahl Miramax Films N/A
2006 Glory Road James Gartner Walt Disney Pictures N/A
Snakes on a Plane David R. Ellis New Line Cinema N/A
Gridiron Gang Phil Joanou Columbia Pictures N/A
Flyboys Tony Bill Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer N/A
The Guardian Andrew Davis Touchstone Pictures N/A
2007 Hot Rod Akiva Schaffer Paramount Pictures N/A
National Treasure: Book of Secrets Jon Turteltaub Walt Disney Pictures N/A
2008 Get Smart Peter Segal Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
2009 12 Rounds Renny Harlin 20th Century Fox N/A
Race to Witch Mountain Andy Fickman Walt Disney Pictures N/A
G-Force Hoyt Yeatman Walt Disney Pictures N/A
2010 The Sorcerer's Apprentice Jon Turteltaub Walt Disney Pictures N/A
2011 I Am Number Four D.J. Caruso Walt Disney Pictures N/A
5 Days of War Renny Harlin Anchor Bay Films N/A
2013 Grudge Match Peter Segal Warner Bros. Pictures N/A
2015 Max Boaz Yakin Warner Bros. Pictures N/A

Guest appearances/collaborations[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c "Movie Geeks United! podcast: Composer TREVOR RABIN". 5 March 2009. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  3. ^ "Weiss, Arlene R. "Interview with Composer, Guitarist and Recording Artist Trevor Rabin."Guitar International"". Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  4. ^ "Rabbitt". The South African Rock Encyclopedia. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  5. ^ "Boys Will Be Boys". All Music Guide. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "Croak & a Grunt in the Night". All Music Guide. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  7. ^ "SA Charts 1969 – 1989". The South African Rock Encyclopedia. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  8. ^ Brian Currin (25 May 2003). "Time To Love – Disco Rock Machine". Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  9. ^ [Say Yes! by Rick Wakeman]
  10. ^ a b "Roger Hodgson collaboration represents road not taken for Yes: ‘One of those things that fizzled out’". Something Else! Reviews. 25 December 2014. 
  11. ^ "Grumpy Old Rick's Ramblings September 2011". RWCC. Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  12. ^ Henry Potts. "Where are they now? – Yes". Retrieved 10 September 2011. 
  13. ^ "Trevor Rabin: Jacaranda". Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  14. ^ "Trevor Rabin-News". Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  15. ^ "Trevor Rabin Honored at ASCAP Film & TV Awards by Bruckheimer, Yes' Anderson, Roasted by Turteltaub". Billboard. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  16. ^ Benarde, Scott R. (2003). Stars of David: rock'n'roll's Jewish stories. UPNE. pp. 274–278. ISBN 1-58465-303-5. 
  17. ^ Berkwits, Jeff. "Owner of a Jewish Heart." San Diego Jewish Journal. September 2004. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
  18. ^

External links[edit]

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