Friday, March 18, 2011

Reb Beach

Reb Beach

Axeman Richard Earl "Reb" Beach is a native son of Pittsburgh; he was raised in Oakmont and went to Fox Chapel HS.

His career began when his mom got him an acoustic guitar. It wasn't love at first sight; it sat under his bed for a few weeks. Then he saw a KISS concert and decided that the life of a rock 'n' roller was for him. Beach reached under the bed and began strumming his eventual ticket to fame.

He was a natural. Beach taught himself to play the guitar and piano without any formal training, jamming along at home to Aerosmith, Sammy Hagar and Ronnie Montrose. But it was Steve Morse, then with the rock/jazz group The Dixie Dregs, who influenced him the most, showing him a world apart from the blues riffs of the mainstream bands.

Beach went off to Boston and spent a couple of semesters at the prestigious Berkelee School of Music, but formal musical training didn't compute with his self-taught lessons. Instead, he put together his own music on a four-track recorder, a Morse-like mix of jazz and rock he called the "Fusion Demo." The tape featured Beach's fast-paced shredding style and powerful hooks.

After winning an annual Beantown "Best Guitarist" contest with a track off his Fusion tapes, Beach headed to the Big Apple, and he took off with a bullet. Within a year, after starting out as as a singing waiter in the Bowery, he became one of the hottest session players in rock, playing mostly for Atlantic acts.

He backed Fiona ("Beyond the Pale" 1986), Howard Jones ("One on One" 1986), Chaka Kahn ("Destiny" 1986), The Bee Gees ("E.S.P." 1987) and Twisted Sister ("Love is for Suckers" 1987), and sat in with Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and Roger Daltrey.

The industry mag Guitar for the Practicing Musician voted him "Best New Guitarist," and Guitar World Magazine selected him as the "Best New Talent."

While in New York, Beach hooked up with his future band mate, Alice Cooper bassist Kip Winger. In 1987, they formed the band Sahara; it quickly morphed into Winger (on Cooper's recommendation; it seems the name Sahara was already taken) and the rest is rock history.

Beach recorded and toured in support of three Winger albums, "Winger" (1988), "In the Heart of the Young" (1990) and "Pull" (1993). The band had six top-forty singles, including "Seventeen," "Madalaine," "Headed for a Heartbreak" and "Miles Away," epitomizing the era's big-hair rock scene.

The band's moment in the sun began to fade. Some blame it on a "Bevis and Butthead" episode that featured a Winger t-shirt on the wimpy Stewart, though the era of the spandex-and-hair bands was also concluding. So Beach returned to Pittsburgh, performing on other artists' records and starting work on his solo venture, The Reb Beach Project, in 1993.

But a call from Alice Cooper put TRBP on hold. Beach joined Cooper on tour for three years, and played on 1997's album "A Fistful of Alice."

After that gig, Beach replaced George Lynch of Dokken in late 1997, played in the band's 1999 release "Erase the Slate," and recorded a DVD, "Live From The Sun." He proved that he could master metal, too, and got to do some memorable solo jams with the group.

Winger had their reunion party in 2002. They headlined an American tour, released "The Very Best of Winger", and then went their separate ways. Beach recorded a solo album, "Masquerade," that same year.

Beach wasn't without a band for long, though. Since 2003, he's toured the world with Whitesnake. The group's 2005 sellout show at London's Hammersmith Apollo was filmed for a DVD and CD release.

A project called The Mob, with King's X frontman Doug Pinnick and Night Ranger drummer Kelly Keagy, resulted in a self-titled album that was released in 2005.

A new Winger released their first studio recording in over a decade, "IV," in 2006. In 2007, Beach toured with Winger and Whitesnake. Later that year, he replaced Jeff Watson in Night Ranger for a series of dates in Japan and the US.

He currently splits his time between Winger and Whitesnake, recording "Karma" in 2009 with the former band, and "Forevermore" with the latter in 2010 and continues to tour with both acts. Rob told Scott Mervis of the Post Gazette that it's easy enough to tell the difference between the bands. "In Whitesnake, we stay at the Ritz Carlton. In Winger, we're at the Motel 6. In Winger, we drive with a trailer behind the van. In Whitesnake, we fly in a Lear jet."

Beach, who still has an Oakmont home, is working on the follow up to his "Masquerade" solo album, as well as writing with Doug Pinnick of Kings X for an album of 80's metal..

Over the years, he's sat in with local artists during his home stands. Beach backed tracks on "Bottom of the Bottle Blues" w/Angel Blue and the Prophets in 2006, John Vento's 2004 "Nied's Hotel" and Mike Stout's "Working Infinity ... Love from the Bottom" in 2001.

He's also done work on the industry side of music, too. Beach designed a line of guitars for Ibanez (RBM - Reb Beach Model) in early nineties and toured for the company, giving guitar clinics. He also produced the instructional video "Cutting Loose." Now he pushes Suhr axes.

Beach also gigged with Sega, recording the soundtracks of Daytona USA 2.

Reb Beach "Cuts It Loose" vid

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