Asa Brebner

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 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’ music, Brebner’s place in rock & roll legend was secured.

This tenure resulted in two albums on Beserkley Records with some titles distributed originally by CBS, the Richman Back in Your Life, Modern Lovers Live, and a few tracks on a compilation Beserkley issued entitled Spitballs.

In 1978 singer Robin Lane had a deal with Private Stock Records and went out to recruit a band called Robin Lane & the Chartbusters. 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.

(Source: Joe Viglione)