-- elite rock & roll side players and artists in their own right -- have a certain luster apart from the popular work they participated in.
is in that league, though the records he performed on didn't invade the Billboard charts or reign too long on MTV with gold/platinum status to become tunes recognizable to the masses. But as a rock guitarist he is a most intuitive player, able to go from premium
Born on November 21, 1953, the only child of Winston Brebner and Ardell Cogswell Brebner, his father wrote the highly acclaimed book Doubting Thomas garnering interest from film director Ingmar Bergman
. His official biography on www.asabrebner.net states that "he attended progressive high school and learned guitar from listening to R&B, the Rolling Stones
and oddball blues records." That bio also includes a strange story of Brebner
hitchhiking through Central and South America after graduation at the age of 17, getting arrested and charged with being an American drug smuggler, tried and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Escaping prison, U.S. diplomats from the American Embassy smuggled him home.
His vinyl debut was on a 45 rpm by Mickey Clean & the Mezz, a favorite of Boston '70s/'80s hot spot The Rathskellar. "Hillside Walking" b/w "Drifting" was released on Asa Records, and was one of those Boston indie singles which opened the floodgates for tons of new bands who would make their own discs in the decades to follow. Friend Leroy Radcliffe
produced "Voodoo," a Mickey Clean & the Mezz single on the French Co-Pilot label. When Brebner
and Radcliffe, along with soon-to-be Cars
drummer David Robinson
, joined local legend Jonathan Richman
for that singer's second recorded wave of Modern Lovers'
place in rock & roll legend was secured. Richman
was at his most eccentric during this phase, a non-commercial battery of tunes about the "Ice Cream Man" and other such nonsense, Richman
playing the Alfred E. Newman game on the record industry, and his loyal fans. Years from now, Richman's
idealism may prove to be brilliant. Brebner
told AMG how that he felt: Richman
"would have made a lot more money if he'd stayed just hardcore but he went his own artistic way and I respect him for it. Jonathan stuck to his eccentric guns and remains a true artistic oddity...you probably won't see him on "Behind the Music." "Ice Cream Man"-type stuff was a slap in the face to all that macho/punk posturing and was a much bigger risk than stepping into line with the rest of the leather jacket/safety pin poseurs. You have to have been there to see what a shock it was to the people whose music he helped spawn as the "godfather of punk" It was truly scary and at times we feared for our lives."
This tenure resulted in two albums on Beserkley Records
with some titles distributed originally by CBS, the Richman
classic Back in Your Life
, Modern Lovers Live, and a few tracks on a compilation Beserkley issued entitled Spitballs
. "Egyptian Reggae" from Modern Lovers Live is a brilliant track and went gold in England, France, Germany, and Holland.
In 1978 singer Robin Lane
had a deal with Private Stock Records and went out to recruit a band called Robin Lane & the Chartbusters
was one of the guitarists in a group fronted by a woman who could hold her own with Chrissie Hynde
and Stevie Nicks
. After two EPs and two albums, Brebner
and the group (without Lane
) recorded David Knopfler
of Dire Straits'
Warner Bros demos. In 1982, Brebner
launched the Grey Boys, the first band in which he sang and wrote all the songs. He also did cartoons for High Times and other magazines. He formed Asa Brebner's Idle Hands
in 1986, and recorded a tape which included the song "Last Bad Habit." It appeared on Warner Bros.' Best of the Unsigned Bands CD compilation in 1988. He released three solo albums between 1996-2001 on three different labels, and a compilation of his music entitled Time in My Way
on the Windjam imprint. Along with production work for Mickey Clean's Unsung Heroes, the Bloodshot
album for Peter C. Johnson
, and Severance
for Kendra Flowers
can be found in the clubs of Boston, performing and helping other musicians through benefit concerts. 2002 has him working on the long-awaited reunion album of Robin Lane & the Chartbusters