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Reeves Gabrels (born June 4, 1956) is an Americanmarker guitarist, known for virtuosity, versatility, and originality. His compositions and improvisations defy genre and "explore sonic extremes with a great, adaptive intuition for what each song needs most."

Gabrels' performance, songwriting and recording credits range from "hard-hitting blues rock to 21st century electronica," to quote Guitar World's characterization of Ulysses, a solo album.

Gabrels works independently and in collaboration with musicians worldwide. He is best known for his long partnership with British singer David Bowie, with whom he worked regularly from 1987 to 2000. Before and during his association with Bowie, Gabrels built an active performing and recording career in Boston, London, and New York; from 2000 to 2006 he was based in Los Angeles and today he works from Nashville, Tennessee.

Early life and Education

Reeves Gabrels was born in Staten Island, New York in June 1956. His mother was a typist and his father worked on tugboats in New York Harbor. Gabrels started playing guitar at age 13, and the following year (1971) his father arranged for lessons with the father's friend and contemporary Turk Van Lake, who lived in the neighborhood. Van Lake (1918-2002) was a professional musician who had played with Benny Goodman and others .

After high school, Gabrels attended the Parsons School of Designmarker and the School of Visual Arts in New York City but continued to play guitar. Through some session musician work he met noted jazz guitarist John Scofield, from whom he took a lesson or two. Gabrels moved to Bostonmarker to attend the Berklee School of Musicmarker, which he left several credits short of a degree in 1981.


Gabrels had an active performing career in Boston before and after his professional association with David Bowie began in the late 1980s. During the 1980s and early 1990s Gabrels was a member of such Boston bands as The Dark, Life on Earth, Rubber Rodeo, The Bentmen and Modern Farmer. Modern Farmer (Gabrels, Jamie Rubin, David Hull , and Billy Beard) issued a self-titled record on Victory/Universal in 1993.

Gabrels first met David Bowie in 1987 during a Bowie tour for which Gabrels' then-wife, Sara Terry, worked as publicist. Gabrels later (1989-1993) joined forces with Bowie and the Sales brothers (drummer Hunt Sales and bass player Tony Sales) in the rock band Tin Machine. Later, Gabrels became an essential part of Bowie's nineties sound, most notably on Outside (1995), Earthling (1997), and 'hours...' (1999), the latter two of which he co-produced. "Dead Man Walking," a Bowie/Gabrels song from Earthling, was nominated for a Grammy award. Gabrels and Bowie also created the soundtrack to the computer game Omikron: The Nomad Soul in 1999 for the game's French publisher. Gabrels ended his professional association with Bowie in late 1999.

Independently, Gabrels maintained a wide-ranging career as composer/songwriter, musical collaborator, and solo performer/producer. Solo records by Gabrels include The Sacred Squall of Now (Rounder/Upstart, 1995); Ulysses (Della Notte) (Emagine, 2000); Live, Late, Loud (Myth Music, 2003); and Rockonica (Myth Music/Favored Nations/Sony, 2005). Ulysses was nominated for a Yahoo! Internet Award in 1999 as a then-pathbreaking Internet release, before becoming available the following year on CD.

Gabrels has written soundtracks for films including David Sutherland's The Farmer's Wife (Frontline, 1995) and for PBS productions, and collaborated with Public Enemy on the song "Go Cat Go" for the Spike Lee film He Got Game (soundtrack, Def Jam, 1998). He wrote the "club music" portions of the soundtrack for the video game Deus Ex.

Gabrels and slide guitarist David Tronzo joined forces on a virtuoso instrumental album, Night in Amnesia, issued by Rounder in 1995. Gabrels also worked with Robert Smith of The Cure during the 1990s, collaborating on The Cure's track "Wrong Number" and "A Sign From God" (as COGASM) as well as co-writing the song "Yesterday's Gone" which Smith sings on Gabrels' album Ulysses.

Gabrels appears with Club D'Elf on Now I Understand, (Accurate Records, 2006), the first studio recording by a Boston-based underground dub/jazz/Moroccan/trance/electronica group led by bassist Mike Rivard; the album also features John Medeski & Billy Martin (Medeski, Martin & Wood), DJ Logic, Mat Maneri, Duke Levine, Alain Mallet, Mister Rourke, and more. In 2008 German label AFM released New Universal Order by X-World/5, a Heavy metal supergroup made up of guitarists Gabrels and Andy LaRocque, vocalist Nils K. Rue, bass player Magnus Rosén, and Los Angeles-based drummer Big Swede.

Since 2006 Gabrels has been based in Nashville, Tennessee. He currently performs most often with drummer Jeff Brown and bass player Kevin Hornback in a trio, REEVES GABRELS & HiS iMAGiNARY FR13NDS."


GUITARS: Gabrels has used different guitars at varied phases in his musical career, selecting instruments to suit the music. He is noted for playing Steinberger guitars, the Parker Fly, and Fernandes Guitars, but also plays Gibson Guitars such as the Les Paul and the Flying V, as well as Fender's Stratocaster.

He has often chosen innovative, less well known makers, explaining in interviews that he prefers a guitar without a set history and with which he is free to create sounds of his own imagination. .

At the summer NAMM show in 2008, Gabrels found two new guitars he liked, both by American makers: Campbell American Guitars of New England, and Reverend Guitars of Warren, Michigan.

A Reeves Gabrels signature model guitar will be available from Reverend_guitars in early 2010, and featured at the winter NAMM show in Los Angeles.

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