BY BILLY SUTER
IT’S been some while since Johannesburg-born Trevor Rabin donned shiny jumpsuits and feathers as one of the four heart-throb members of hugely successful South African pop-rock band Rabbitt.
So long ago in fact – some 40 years or so – that the now Los Angeles-based Rabin himself admits he is having increasingly “vague memories” of the group that launched his career and spawned such hits as Charlie, Locomotive Breath, Hold On to Love, Lonely Loner Too and Dingley’s Bookshop.
Post-Rabbitt, Rabin, who turns 63 on January 13, went on to find bigger fame in America as a member of rock band Yes from 1983 to 1995 – then as a versatile composer of soundtracks for some 50 films, among them Armageddon, Bad Boys 3, Gone in 60 Seconds, the National Treasure series and, Rabin’s personal favourite, Remember the Titans.
Now he is to make history as the first South African to be inducted into America’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – as guitarist and chief songwriter for progressive rock band Yes, for whom he sang and wrote Owner of a Lonely Heart, among other hits.
Others who will be given this honour include Joan Baez, ELO, Journey, Pearl Jam and Tupac Shakur. A special award for musical excellence will go to Nile Rodgers.
Singer-guitarist Rabin was also the chief songwriter for Rabbitt which formed in 1972 as The Conglomeration, and split in 1977. The group also featured Neil Cloud on drums, keyboardist-vocalist-guitarist Duncan Faure (who would go on to join Bay City Rollers) and bassist Ronnie Robot.
Rabin left South Africa for London in 1978, according to the Fandom website, which adds that his first solo album, Beginnings, was released there simply as Trevor Rabin, with a slightly different tracklisting.
The website adds that Rabin began working as a producer and session player. He worked with South African vocalist Margaret Singana (Where is the Love) and fellow South African expatriate, Manfred Mann and his Earth Band, and released his second solo album, Face to Face, touring the UK in support of Steve Hillage in early 1980.
The 32nd Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony has been scheduled for April 7 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York,
In a recent radio interview with CapeTalk’s John Maytham, Rabin, speaking from Los Angeles, said he considered the induction “a fantastic honour”.
However, he admitted that he and fellow group members were not immediately overjoyed at news of nominations as Yes had been nominated twice before for the honour and had not made the final cut.
But when the band members heard the good news they were very pleased, especially as it followed a gruelling, two-month tour.
Artists are eligible for inclusion in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 25 years after the release of their first recording. This year’s inductees were chosen by more than 900 voters, as well as the aggregate results of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s online fan vote.
Rabin said he tries to visit South Africa as often as his busy schedule allows. He was last here last year, for the game park wedding of his son, Ryan, the drummer and producer of the band GroupLove since 2010.
Rabin is still in touch with Rabbitt members Neil and Ronnie, but has not spoken to Duncan in a while, he added.
He said he was still involved with movie soundtracks. was performing again with Yes men Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson, and would love to play in South Africa some day.
The trio was planning a European tour in February and would then tour Japan, he told CapeTalk.