On January 13th, 1954 in Johannesburg, South Africa, Godfrey and Joy Eileen (nee Wallach) Rabin welcomed their second child, Trevor Charles, into the world.
Born into a musical and artistic family also known for their passion for social justice, Trevor's talent and determination would bring him success of many kinds…a true product of his upbringing, lineage, and also his own special abilities.
A Jewish household, the Rabins resided in the Parkland suburb of Johannesburg, and Trevor began studying piano at age six (primarily under the tutelage of his uncle Morrie); a few years later all the young Rabins would be winning competitions in violin (older brother Derek) and piano (Trevor and his sister Amanda). But Trevor discovered a true love in the guitar by age 10, desiring to follow his brother’s lead in regards to rock n’roll. His parents bought him a Comet guitar and Trevor taught himself with his inherent musical ability and by applying his knowledge of the piano to the task. Beginning with his brother’s band, at age 13 he joined the Conglomeration, and he and his bandmates - childhood friends Ronnie Friedman and Neil Cloud - would go on to form Rabbitt, the most successful rock band in South African history.
In tribute to his siblings, the name of his music publishing company during his tenure with Yes was "Tremander"
In yet another expression of his artistic temperament, Trevor would also begin painting in his youth, inspired and guided by his mother who was a painter as well as a piano teacher, actress, and ballet dancer. His father was the first chair violinist in the Johannesburg Symphony as well as a successful and prominent solicitor whose political stance was firmly in support of the disenfranchised portion of South Africa's population. One of Trevor's cousins, Sydney Kentridge, was the barrister who represented the family of Stephen Biko in their suit against the South African government. Another cousin, journalist Donald Woods, chronicled the case in a best-selling book.
The law was one vocation expected in the family, Derek became a solicitor, but Trevor had envisioned himself as a symphonic conductor and arranger. His father – an avid fan of Jimi Hendrix - counseled that he might be better inclined to pursue rock n'roll, although Trevor did study classical composition and arrangement with renowned conductor Walter Mony at The University of the Witwatersrand. Carrying on in the artistic tradition of their mother, Amanda became a dancer and later ballet teacher. During Trevor's adolescence the Conglomeration was one of the most popular local bands, winning scores of contests and hearts in the Gauteng Province. However, they were all incredibly headstrong as well as ambitious and suffered a breakup before Neil departed for his obligatory conscription in the South African Army. Trevor and Ronnie were to be called up the following year (serving in the Entertainment Division where his parents had originally met in the 1940s), and in the meanwhile spent a year playing in Freedom's Children, one of the first vocally (and popular) anti-apartheid bands in the country. The line-up which included Trevor and Ronnie recorded a single, “(Wake Up!) State Of Fear” which unfortunately did not see official release.
This was also the time Trevor purchased the guitar he would become known for playing: a 1962 fiesta red Stratocaster which he made his own with airbrushed art (with the assistance of his Army buddy Selwyn Schneider), carving his initials into the body, and later a mirrored pickguard and a sticker bearing the name of his son. Despite breaking the neck of the guitar in 1976, he managed to have it repaired and it remains a crucial part of the guitar despite all of the hardware being replaced throughout its history. Trevor’s most famous solo – in "Owner of a Lonely Heart" – was played on that guitar and he posed with it on the cover of Rabbitt's second album A Croak and A Grunt in the Night.
Trevor had begun working as a session musician at age 15, picking up the bass in addition to guitar and keyboard duties. He participated in literally hundreds of sessions, on call for producers Patric van Blerk and Robert John "Mutt" Lange. Trevor also recorded a series of albums for the Afrikaans market (titled Lekker Kitaar) under the name Trevor Terblanche in the mid-70s, as well as numerous dance music side projects including the studio-based supergroup Hot R.S. and, under his own auspices, Disco Rock Machine and The Tee Cee’s (a clever allusion to his initials).
Once Trevor, Ronnie and Neil had served their time in the Army they reformed as Rabbitt and began a quest to get signed, mentored by their producer and manager Patric van Blerk. Playing as a trio for most of that time, they rebuilt their following with a residency at the Johannesburg club Take It Easy, playing six nights a week plus a matinee on Saturday. In 1975 they recruited another member from Pretoria, Duncan Faure, who provided rhythm guitar, keyboards, and vocals, he and Trevor sharing the lead on many songs. By the time Rabbitt's debut album Boys Will Be Boys! was released on Jo'Burg Records they were Johannesburg's most popular band once again and poised to break nationwide. The first single from the album was "Charlie" (the lyrics of which unbeknownst to everyone but the band and their friends/associates was actually about van Blerk's partner Charles Coatzee who provided the art design for the Rabbitt albums) which went straight to the top of the charts and the female hysteria which followed was absolutely unprecedented in the annals of South African popular music. The adulation would become so intense the band would end up as near-recluses, unable to go out in public without being mobbed by adoring fans.
For the next two years Rabbittmania was the order of the day, but social unrest (such as the Soweto riots of 1976) continued to cause Trevor to question his place in his home country. The music industry was not entirely subject to such obvious discrimination - Trevor had the opportunity to work with people from all walks of life - but knowing that he couldn't even eat in the same restaurant with those he admired and called friend, or perform for mixed audiences, was a sting to his sense of right and wrong. To his credit Trevor contributed in large part in bringing singer Margaret Singana, known to an adoring nation as "Lady Afrika," to greater renown worldwide by co-producing and playing on a series of releases in which she performed rock and R&B songs as well as featuring her in the first movie he scored, Death of a Snowman. By 1977 – despite the enormous success garnered by their second release A Croak and A Grunt in the Night - the pressures within the band as well as their frustration at not being able to tour outside the country due to political censures against South Africa proved to be their undoing. Trevor was ready to move forward to the next level, but the rest of the band voted against relocating to London. By the fall of that year Trevor was no longer a Rabbitt.
Scant months after departing the band Trevor recorded and released his first solo album Beginnings (producing, arranging and performing all music and vocals save the drums, with guest appearances by his father Godfrey on violin and studio cohort Rene (nee Veldsman) Arnell on backing vocals) and crafted his master plan for worldwide success. After forming a management company and signing with Chrysalis Records in London, he left South Africa for good with his high school sweetheart Shelley May, whom he married on August 17th, 1979 in Killarney, Cape Town. His debut album had been re-mixed, re-sequenced and given a new cover and an eponymous title for worldwide release in 1978.
During his time in London Trevor released two more albums, Face To Face (which was partially recorded in London with a band, later redubbing all the parts himself in South Africa save drums and backing vocals) and Wolf. The latter featured a new methodology, with a power trio of Trevor, Jack Bruce on bass and Simon Phillips on drums, augmented by guest appearances by musical friends and associates. Fresh from work on Pink Floyd’s The Wall, James Guthrie was originally considered as a co-producer but due to scheduling conflicts was unable to participate, and thus Ray Davies of The Kinks was selected as Associate Producer, with the album being recorded at Davies’ own Konk Studios. Though Trevor had toured as a support act for guitarist Steve Hillage after the release of his second album, he was not aggressively promoted by Chrysalis Records overall, despite their attempts to market him as yet another guitar hero and pub rocker. Trevor parted ways with the label after the release of Wolf. Throughout this period Trevor had continued to produce other artists as well as pursue his own goals as a recording artist.
In 1980 Trevor then moved on to Los Angeles having been courted by John Kalodner of Geffen Records. His plans for a new group didn't materialize (though he did write and record demos with drummer Frankie Banali and bassist Mark Andes and was invited by John McLaughlin to perform with The Guitar Trio) but what did was a fertile period of songwriting and – after a series of auditions with other bands - a fateful meeting with Yes’ rhythm section Chris Squire and Alan White, looking to start a new group as their previous vehicle had disbanded not long before. Chris and Trevor formed a friendship which lasted until Squire's passing in June 2015, their inherent personal chemistry making for a great working relationship as well.
Trevor and Shelley returned to London and the group (now with Tony Kaye on keyboards) began work. Although their plan was for an autonomous identity as a brand-new venture, forces both internal and external eventually brought about the resurrection of Yes, allowing for the return of vocalist Jon Anderson; but they did so courtesy of Trevor's songs (and Trevor Horn's production) on their most popular record to date, 90125 and the only number one single the band has ever had, "Owner of a Lonely Heart." Recently the song was awarded by BMI as a multi-million performer. Specifically, the song has been licensed three million times for performance. Not bad for a song he wrote in the loo (there's a great echo in there, you know)! The album also yielded the band its only Grammy, Best Rock Instrumental for “Cinema.”
In October 1985, riding high on Yes' revitalization, Trevor and Shelley would welcome their son Ryan, who would follow in the family tradition as a musician. Father and son have collaborated on many of Trevor's film scores, most recently writing and performing as "Tremander" on a track for the family film G-Force. Ryan holds a degree in Recording Technologies from USC and has pursued engineering and production work as well as serving as the drummer in a number of bands, currently he sits behind the kit for Grouplove as well as serving as their producer. Ryan married his longtime love Kyly Zakheim in 2016 at the Londolozi Private Game Reserve in South Africa.
In 1989 Trevor released his fourth solo album Can’t Look Away which featured not only a remake of a Rabbitt song (“Hold On To Me,” originally titled “Hold On To Love”) but songs which addressed the strife occurring in his homeland even as the populace would eventually topple the oppressive regime of apartheid. The album was co-produced by acclaimed producer Bob Ezrin, who co-wrote four of the tracks with Trevor as well as recruiting lyricist Anthony Moore who contributed lyrics to “I Can’t Look Away” and “Cover Up.” The album featured varied styles and moods, from rock to pop to funk as well as tracks which reflected the native music of Trevor’s homeland (“Sorrow [Your Heart]“ and “The Cape”). Trevor undertook a club tour to promote the record and recorded the performance at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles which would be released in 2003 as Live in LA.
Trevor would remain a member of Yes for fourteen years, through hit albums and tours and even a full-scale reunion of band members past and present (the Union album and tour of 1991). That same year Trevor and Shelley would become naturalized citizens of the US, Los Angeles had been their home since 1980 (with a few relocations over the years) and they now reside above the Hollywood Reservoir with Trevor’s studio The Jacaranda Room (named for the trees which populate nearly every street in the Gauteng Province) on the premises.
Once again, internal struggles and outward ambition showed Trevor it was time to move on and in 1995 he departed, after his milestone contribution as producer of the album Talk, one of the first all-digital recordings (using Mark of the Unicorn’s Digital Performer to record to hard disk rather than tape). Trevor has always been in forefront of recording technology, such as serving as an early consultant to Digidesign for their ProTools application, now considered standard equipment in nearly every recording studio worldwide.
Beginning with The Glimmer Man – exactly 20 years after his debut as a film scorer – Trevor would go on in another incarnation, another career path, as a film and television composer, scoring dozens of films and writing themes featured in sporting events, as well as the theme for the short-lived television series E-Ring. A piece from his score for the film Remember The Titans, titled “Titans Spirit,” was used by Barack Obama’s campaign as theme music, drawing on the musical expression of triumph over discrimination and adversity. His scores would win numerous awards from such organizations as BMI, ASCAP and the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror. Trevor also composed the music for the Mission: Space attraction at Disney World’s Epcot Center as well as a commercial for Mountain Dew starring action star icon Chuck Norris. In recent years Trevor has found himself scoring in new genres, such as his work for the documentary The Movement: One Man Joins An Uprising and the ABC television series Zero Hour. Trevor and his creative partner Paul Linford made a lateral move into television scoring more or less on a full-time basis, in addition to Zero Hour they have composed scores for 12 Monkeys and Agent X.
Trevor decided to revive his solo career in 2012 with the release of the instrumental album Jacaranda, recorded over a period of six years, once again showcasing Trevor on a multitude of guitars and keyboards, and featuring some very special guests on drums - close friend and colleague Lou Molino III, his son Ryan, and noted jazz/rock drummer Vinnie Colaiuta - as well as jazz bassist Tal Wilkenfeld. The album is a blending of jazz, fusion, bluegrass, progressive and classical elements and debuted to overwhelming critical acclaim and a spot in the Top Twenty on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart.
Trevor surprised fans at the beginning of 2016 with a couple of brief updates on Facebook regarding the long-awaited project of Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman (ARW) - the announcement of a US tour for the Fall of 2016, and a European tour in the Spring of 2017 - a welcome return to live performance for Trevor after 21 years. The trio has noted in recent interviews they are working on new music and an album release is hopefully anticipated for some time in 2018.
Classical prodigy, teen idol, guitar hero, distinctive singer/songwriter, popular film composer…Trevor has many facets of musical experience, and each has been successful and artistically fulfilling. Whatever he may choose to pursue next will bear the hallmark of excellence as displayed by his talent and creativity, eagerly awaited by a loyal legion of fans worldwide.