Trevor Rabin has earned a worldwide reputation for his innovative work as a musician and composer. Born in 1954 in Johannesburg, he is the son of a prominent lawyer Godfrey Rabin, who was also a highly-respected violinist. Godfrey performed as first chair for the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra for over a decade. His mother was a well-known actress and an accomplished classical pianist. Trevor showed a natural gift for music, beginning classical piano lessons from the age of six.
His father bought him a guitar after winning a national classical piano competition and a couple of years later, he formed his first band Conglomeration with some friends.
Within a year of their inception, Conglomeration earned a reputation as being one of the best bands in Johannesburg and before long, they were headlining pop festivals with bands twice their age.
Trevor began doing session work at 17 and established himself as the most sought after session guitarist in South Africa and developed his production skills while working with all the top producers and arrangers. Notably, Trevor worked closely with Mutt Lange, who would book him on all his sessions.
As well as being a session musician, Trevor joined a band called Freedom's Children and played to sell-out audiences all over South Africa. One of the songs Trevor wrote with the band was called ‘Wake Up! State of Fear’ and was a controversial anti-Apartheid song, which did not sit well with the establishment.
After a successful year with Freedom's Children, Trevor was drafted into the South African Army and after two months basic training, transferred from an Infantry Division to the Entertainment Unit.
Soon after completing his time in the army, Trevor formed the band Rabbitt with former Conglomeration bandmates, Neil Cloud and Ronnie Robot.
Rabbitt became the most successful rock act ever to emerge from South Africa, and Trevor and his bandmates became teen idol pinups and virtual recluses, having to hide from overzealous fans!
In 1976, Rabbitt (now a full time touring band) released its first album, ‘Boys Will Be Boys’, which went gold faster than any other South African record in history. For this album, Rabbitt won a Sarie award, the South African equivalent of a Grammy award, for Best Contemporary Pop Music.
Rabbitt dominated the South African charts for two years and to this day, it is considered to be the biggest musical phenomenon ever to come out of South Africa, but a struggle with the pressures of Rabbitt and the desire to work in London led Trevor to move to London in 1978. Here, he produced such acts as Manfred Mann's Earth Band and released his first self-titled solo album. Two more solo albums ensued - 1979's ‘Face to Face’ and 1981's ‘Wolf’.
Accepting an invitation from industry heavyweight John Kalodner, he moved to Los Angeles. where he spent time writing and penned most of the album ‘90125’.
However, the relationship with Kalodner was not meant to be. Trevor then started shopping the material he had been writing with the view of releasing a solo album and after meeting up with Chris Squire, they formed the band Cinema, the music based on what Trevor had been writing, eventually becoming ‘90125’.
As the album neared completion, Jon Anderson joined the band and a new incarnation of Yes was born. The Yes ‘comeback’ album ‘90125’ became by far the biggest-selling of the group's career, launching the group's only #1 single, Rabin's ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’ and securing the band’s only Grammy for ‘Cinema’.
In 1989, Trevor released his fourth solo album, ‘Can't Look Away’ and after a decade of success, including four albums and four worldwide tours, parted ways with Yes.
Immediately, he decided to look into film composition, as he thought it was a perfect platform for writing for orchestra - a passion up there with playing guitar.
The outcome of this desire proved prolific, as since then, he has composed the soundtracks for mega-budget Hollywood movies, enhancing the performances of stars like Sir Anthony Hopkins, Gene Hackman, Will Smith, Nicholas Cage, Denzel Washington and Samuel L Jackson. Trevor has scored twelve films for Jerry Bruckheimer, and has written the scores for more than 50 films.
His theme music backs the American baseball and basketball games and his ‘Remember The Titans’ score reverberates behind the Olympic Games telecasts. ‘Titans’ was also the theme music for Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
His collaborations include working with Seal, Michael Jackson, Manfred Mann, Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, Jack Bruce, Paul Rodgers and some of the great orchestras of the world, to name a few. He also sang and performed guitar on ‘Never Is A Long Long Time’ on Rick Wakeman’s ‘Return to the Centre of the Earth’ album in 1998.
Trevor was saddened by the death of Sir George Martin in 2016, having worked closely with him and performed with him at the ‘Sir George Martin and Friends… An Evening of Beatle Music’ concert at the Hollywood Bowl.
He has received numerous awards including The Henry Mancini Film Music Award, eleven BMI Film Awards, a Grammy, a Lifetime Achievement Award (Los Angeles Music Awards), a Career Achievement Award (Temecula International Film Festival), and Gold Medal for Excellence in Film Music Award (Park City Film Festival).
The awards reflect the vision that Trevor had from his early days in South Africa. Since then he has also been involved in socio-political commentary and human rights issues. His song ‘Wake Up! State of Fear’ was one of the first anti-Apartheid songs. ‘Working For The People’ is a power salute to the Soweto school riots. Margaret 'Lady Afrika' Singana sings with Trevor on ‘Tribal Fence’, with the lyric eerily forecasting the year that Nelson Mandela would walk out of jail and end apartheid rule. ‘Can't Look Away’ was inspired by the anguish in South Africa prior to Mandela coming to power.
In 1997, Trevor met Mandela when he became involved in the Prince's Trust Concert. The event was held in Johannesburg and helped raise funds for the unemployed youth of South Africa. Trevor also played at the Prince's Trust Concert in 2004 at Wembley Arena with Yes.
Besides releasing numerous film score albums, Trevor recently wrote and released an instrumental album, ‘Jacaranda’, featuring Trevor on guitar, dobro, mandolin, banjo, piano, Hammond and bass guitar and double bass. He also had a number of people join him on the recording, including Lou Molino, Vinnie Colaiuta and Trevor's son Ryan on drums, and Tal Winkenfeld features on one track on bass.
The album reached no. 6 on the Billboard jazz charts, and Trevor was critically acclaimed as one of the finest guitarists in the world.
Trevor has become one of the most sought-after film composers in the business, with 50 films to date. He has created music that crosses barriers and genres that have made him one of the premier composers of contemporary music. As a guitarist, keyboardist, singer, songwriter, producer, conductor, orchestrator and recording engineer, Trevor has established himself as a leader in the music world.