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Music / Trevor Rabin

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Trevor Charles Rabin (born 13 January 1954) is a South African guitarist, keyboardist, singer, and songwriter, known particularly for his work with Yes. He is known for his blend of Rock and Roll and Progressive Rock elements in his music, particularly during and after his time with Yes.

He started his career with a South African band called Rabbitt, which achieved some success locally but was virtually unknown outside of South Africa. He later moved to London to start a solo career, which achieved little commercial success but brought him recognition within professional music circles. Eventually, he met up with Ex-Yes members Alan White and Chris Squire, with whom he formed a new band called "Cinema", with Rabin on guitar and lead vocals. Fellow ex-Yes member Tony Kaye was brought in on keyboards, and Trevor Horn (another ex-Yes member) was hired to produce the album. Following Jon Anderson (yet another ex-Yes member) being brought into Cinema as vocalist, it was decided to make Cinema into a reformed Yes (against the objections of Rabin, who did not want to be seen as yet another Yes guitarist).

Despite Rabin's opposition, 90125 was released as a Yes album with songs based mostly on material Rabin had initially written for his fourth solo album. It was a major commercial and critical success, with "Owner of a Lonely Heart" becoming Yes' one and only #1-charting single. After this sudden success, Creative Differences began to emerge in the new Yes, with Trevor Horn leaving before the release of the follow-up album Big Generator (leaving Rabin to do much of the production work himself) and Jon Anderson leaving shortly after its release. Rabin was thus left as the frontman of a highly fragmented Yes. While working with Squire and White on material for the new Yes album, Rabin recorded and toured a fourth solo album Can't Look Away that was well-received critically but was a disappointment commercially.

After contributing a trio of tracks to the Yes album Union (incorporating the splinter group Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe), Rabin took charge of the Yes album Talk in 1994. Written mostly by Rabin and produced entirely by him, Talk was unmitigated failure commercially due to the record label going bankrupt and doing little to no promotion of it. Rabin, disappointed at putting so much time and effort into a project that he felt was unappreciated, left Yes to pursue a career composing film scores, which he has been doing for most of the time since (barring the odd solo album).

However, he's been on hiatus from film scoring since 2016 due to a new project: In 2010, Rabin, Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman formed Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman to tour and play Yes material. After they and their former Yes bandmates were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017, they rebranded themselves as "Yes featuring ARW". They have a studio album due for early 2019, having already released a live album in 2018.

Solo Discography

  • Trevor Rabin (1978)note 
  • Face to Face (1979)
  • Wolf (1980)
  • Can't Look Away (1989)
  • Live In LA (2003)
  • 90124 (2003)
  • Jacaranda (2012)

With Yes

  • 90125 (1983)
  • Big Generator (1987)
  • Union (1991)note 
  • Talk (1994)

Selected film scores note 

Tropes found in his music include:

  • Breakup Breakout: He went on to international fame after leaving Rabbitt- the other members are mostly unknown outside of South Africa.
  • Happily Married: Rabin has been married to his wife Shelley for decades. Quite ironic for the man who wrote "Owner of a Lonely Heart".
  • Informed Judaism: In his personal life, Rabin is Jewish. However, it is not readily apparent in his music.
  • Instrumentals: Jacaranda is full of them, and due to his work on film scores they are his dominant form of composition post-Talk.
  • I Am the Band: By the end of his run with Yes, he became more important to Yes than the actual frontman, Jon Anderson. Of course, since his rise to prominence coincided with Yes' decline, it became easy for fans and critics to blame him for the venerable band's falling fortunes. (While he isn't blameless, it often veers far into Mis-blamed territory that ignores that the entire band agreed on poor decisions like letting Trevor Horn leave during the Big Generator sessions and the ill-fated Victory Music signing that ended up killing Talk).
  • Immigrant Patriotism: Rabin became a naturalized U.S. citizen after living and working there for many years.
  • Intercourse with You: Most of his early songs were this, though his later work explored more complex topics.
  • Mythology Gag: The cover art and name of 90124 refer to the Yes album 90125 (which much of the demo material on 90124 was released on).
  • One-Steve Limit: He was in Yes at the same time as another man named Trevor (with the surname Horn) who produced 90125, that Rabin primarily wrote. This has caused issues with new fans of Yes getting the two confused.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Since leaving Yes, this has been his career (the odd solo album notwithstanding).
  • Protest Song: "Sorrow (Your Heart)" and "I Can't Look Away" are protests of apartheid, which Rabin was a vocal critic of and was ultimately a factor in his decision to relocate to the United Kingdom. Rabin later performed the latter song at a 1997 concert for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg and regards his meeting with Mandela and his family as "an immensely proud moment".
  • Record Producer: He co-produced Big Generator, produced all of Talk, his own tracks on Union, and his post-Yes solo albums.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: His composition "Titan's Spirit" for Remember the Titans has been reused for NBC's coverage of the Olympic Games as well as Barack Obama's speech upon winning the 2008 presidential election.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Steve Howe quit Yes after the Union tour primarily because he was unhappy sharing lead guitar with Rabin. This was 1991 after all, and Rabin was often thought of as Yes' guitarist while Howe was stuck in his shadow. (Now that Rabin is gone and Howe is back, Howe is once again beloved by fans while Rabin has become The Scrappy. Yes fans are strange like that.)