Reeves Gabrels

About Reeves Gabrels

When thinking of all the guitarists David Bowie has played with over the years, Mick Ronson is usually the one that immediately comes to mind. However, it was Reeves Gabrels who played with the Thin White Duke the longest. Born on June 4, 1956 in Staten Island, New York, Gabrels received his first guitar as a gift from his father at an early age, and soon after, began replicating what he heard on Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton records. After a short lived stab at receiving a degree in art failed to pan out, Gabrels enrolled at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, which also failed to last long. But Garbrels remained up north, and played with a variety of bands, including one outfit called the Dark. It was through has association with the band that he met journalist/publicist Sara Terry (who he would later marry), and would eventually accept a job serving as publicist for David Bowie's overblown ‘Glass Spider Tour' in 1987. As a result, it was during the tour that Bowie met Gabrels, and a friendship ensued. Upon hearing a tape of Gabrels' playing, Bowie helped land the guitarist spots playing with Deaf School, Nick Lowe, and Sandie Shaw, before deciding to work with the guitarist himself, as part of the experimental rock outfit, Tin Machine. With the addition of a solid rhythm section consisting of bassist Tony Sales and drummer Hunt Sales (best known for their late ‘70s work with Iggy Pop), the quartet issued their debut, Tin Machine, in 1989. The album ruffled the feathers of many longtime Bowie fans (since it was rawer and more ‘in your face' than anything the singer had done in ages), and the situation only worsened with the arrival of the group's next (and final) studio effort, 1991's Tin Machine II. Despite the project being dead and buried, Bowie and Gabrels continued their working partnership, as the guitarist appeared on such ‘90s era Bowie releases as 1993's Black Tie White Noise, 1995's Outside, 1997's Earthling, and 1999's Hours (additionally, Gabrels appeared on a remake of "Look Back in Anger," included on Rykodisc's early ‘90s reissue of Bowie's 1979 effort, Lodger), and subsequent supporting tours. The decade also saw Gabrels strike out on his own with star studded solo releases, including 1995's The Sacred Squall of Now (which included guest spots from Bowie, Frank Black, Jeffrey Gaines, and Gary Oldman) and 1999's Ulysses (Della Notte) (which once again featured Bowie and Black, as well as Robert Smith and Dave Grohl). By the dawn of the 21st century however, Gabrels had decided to split from Bowie and set out on his own for good. In addition to his work with Bowie and his solo work, Gabrels' guitar has been spotted on recordings by a variety of other groups, including the Cure, the Mission UK, Public Enemy, Natalie Imbruglia, the Rolling Stones, Jeffrey Gaines, Ozzy Osbourne, and Sister Machine Gun, among others. Gabrels continues to remain busy -- with further solo albums (live late loud), tours, and even issuing his own signature guitar, the ‘RG 13,' via the Fernandes company. ~ Greg Prato


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