Andrew Brel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Andrew Brel
Andrew Brel 2014.jpg
Background information
Birth nameAndreas Broulidakis
Born (1960-09-28) 28 September 1960 (age 58)
Johannesburg, South Africa
OriginLondon, United Kingdom
GenresNew-age, meditation, wellness
Occupation(s)Composer, Music producer, Author
InstrumentsGuitar, Bouzouki
Years active1979–present

Andrew Brel (born Andreas Broulidakis, 28 September 1960) is a UK author whose work includes 'The Emergency Bouzouki Player' and 'One Day in Paris'. A professional musician for over forty years as a composer and producer.

Early life[edit]

Brel was born to Greek parents in the South African suburb of Bryanston, one of Johannesburg's affluent whites-only areas in 1960. His father was Manoussos Broulidakis, originally from Sfakia, a Cretan village on the South of the Island notable for its resistance during the Ottoman occupation. With a reputation for resistance against oppression going back 1,000 years, Sfakia was the extraction point for the Allied troops caught up in the surprise invasion of Crete by the Nazis in 1941. After emigrating to South Africa in 1934, Manos volunteered for the South African army in 1939, serving as an infantry captain in the British Commonwealth forces, active in North Africa and Italy. He was a multiple medal winner although he gave his medals away, believing medals to be unworthy, seeing the anti fascist position as every mans duty and not a choice warranting reward.
Manos married Helen Evangelou in 1956. They had three children. Katerina, born 1958, Andreas born 1960 and Christina born 1966.
The family lived in Linksfield Ridge in what was the 'House of the Year in 1956. The house on Hannoben street was designed by Frank L. Jarret in 1951 "for Greek timber merchant Manos Broulidakis, who spared no expense in using the richest of timbers for its interiors."
Manos sold in 1960 to L.Ron Hubbard, when he relocated his Scientology business to South Africa. The house that Manos built is currently listed as one of Johannesburg's hidden treasures of architecture as a museum called 'The Ron Hubbard House'.[1]
Manos Broulidakis' home was the first 1950's house to attain Heritage status in South Africa.
In 1960 Manos moved his family to Bryanston, where Andreas grew up a native Greek speaker, attending Bryanston Primary, Bryanston High and Damelin College before completing first year at the University of the Witwatersrand medical school.
Manos died in 1971 of a coronary thrombosis, leaving Helen, 36, with three children and four dogs in a three acre property with four servants. Andrew was 10, Katherine 12 and Christina 4. Each child would react differently to this early encounter with profound loss. Andrew rejected orthodox religion from an early age, being an outspoken anti-theist from the age of 12.

Conscription into the SADF[edit]

In 1979, having just turned 18, Brel was forcibly conscripted into the South African Army for two years during the height of the Border War. Brel toured the Border war zone as a guitarist in the Entertainment Corps show band, performing with many of South Africa's biggest musical stars of the era on morale boosting concerts for the troops.
In this guise he met and entertained several of South Africa's significant Apartheid leaders, including Minister of Defence, Magnus Malan and Minister of Police Jimmy Kruger.
In 1980 as a 19 year old troop in military uniform he found himself face to face with South Africa's Leader P. W. Botha during a Government Dinner/Dance function welcoming the Argentine Prime Minister. Overwhelmed by intuitively impulsive youthful exuberance he told the Prime Minister, your bum stinks. One of many instances of non violent protest that characterized an unhappy period of living under and resenting the rule of the Christian Apartheid regime. [2]

After being discharged from national service in 1980, in order to avoid the camp system in which conscripts were required to return to the border annually for so called 'Camps' lasting up to three months, Andrew returned to formal education which provided exemption from Camps. He completed three years of Computer Science whilst performing as a solo musician at many of South Africa's most prestigious musical venues, becoming one of the busiest and highest paid performers in South Africa between 1981 and 1985.
In 1981, at the outset of a career as a professional musician, acting on the advice of his booking agent, Edith Goldstein, who explained the commercial difficulties attached to booking Andreas Broulidakis he adopted a shortened version of his name, appearing professionally as Andy Brel for the first time in 1981 at his first professional contract, the Quirinale Hotel in Hillbrow. A three month contract, performing for four hours, five nights weekly.
Between 1981 and 1985 Brel averaged over 300 paid appearances annually whilst still a full-time student, earning glowing reviews on numerous occasions in The Star, then the most widely circulated news publication in South Africa. During this time he experienced undiagnosed PTSD, which led to a formal interest in learning about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and then sharing information about the condition in published articles that have been used in treatment programs by doctors in South Africa. Where an entire generation of white males was sent to fight in the Border war, many just 18 at the time of conscription


In 1985 Andrew left Apartheid South Africa and emigrated to England, arriving with a total of £1,500 and no plan beyond playing music for money. Motivated entirely by the desire to escape from South Africa and never return.
He was well received from the outset in the UK where his one man show led to a stream of bookings on the Pub and club circuit. Soon after arrival he enjoyed a 3 year Saturday night sold out stint at Bo-Jangles, a wine bar owned by a music Industry personality in Hampton Wick, South West London, opposite Kingston-Upon-Thames.
Bo jangles was at that time a trending in-place for musicians where being the featured attraction every Saturday night led to many musical introductions and album recording opportunities. Providing the social network that formed the start of a new life in the UK.
Within one year of arriving in the UK, aged 25 in 1986 Brel bought his first home on the Thames Riverbank near Hampton Court. Where he quickly adapted to life as a local in the village of East Molesey.
From 1986 until 1991 he owned and operated Hampton Court Studios, at no 3 Bridge Road, where he worked as a music writer and producer developing new talent and creating original musical copyrights. This included producing the original demos of the Dogs D'Amour which led to their record deal with China Records, launching a colorful chapter in British cartoon Rock and Roll.
After 8 hour studio sessions on most days, in the evenings Brel continued public performances as a guitarist/singer, increasingly in duo context with musicians including Duncan Mackay (10cc), John Edwards (Status Quo) and Ronnie Johnson (Van Morrison).
In the eighties Brel averaged six nights a week of live gigs in London and five full-price sessions a week in Hampton Court Studios.

Bridge Recordings[edit]

In 1989, Brel formed a record label, Bridge Recordings[3] with Charlie Morgan, then drummer with Elton John. Bridge Recordings was a pioneering model of an independent record label producing high quality recordings of accomplished musicians playing their own instruments with the ethos of 'Music by Musicians.'

Distribution of Bridge albums was enhanced by Brel's association with Music Maker Publications and its chairman Terry Day which enabled numerous successful promotions though the wide circulation of their magazine 'Guitarist'.

In 1991 Music Maker leased one of the first T1 Internet connections in the UK and Brel established the Bridge Recordings web store which recorded the first instance of a CD sale via the Internet for Give Them Enough Rope by Ronnie Johnson.[4]

During the 1990s this association with the largest publisher of music related magazines helped the careers of many guitar players and included starting the Guitarist Magazine 'Guitarist of the Year' competition, which gave unknown players the opportunity to perform live with top session musicians in front of an audience for the prize of publicity and a recording opportunity. Several of the participants in these shows have gone on to enjoy successful professional careers.
Brel contributed numerous articles for publication in Music Maker titles including lengthy features on Manfred Mann,[5] and songwriter Terry Britten.[6] From 1992, Brel produced all covermount CD's for all Terry Days publications under the Music Maker banner including Guitarist magazine and Guitar Techniques magazine. Containing new content each month by a variety of contributors that would include Martin Taylor and Guthrie Govan along with many of the top level of teachers and players in the UK.
This conceptual idea, which began in a coffee meeting between Brel and Terry Day in Cambridge provided a new and original approach to music tuition that has left a lasting legacy. During this period Brel also mastered every CD release and oversaw overall production in excess of 2 million CD's. Along with negotiating the license payment with the Copyright protection society, the MCPS, for the copyright compositions appearing on every one of the lessons contained on the CD's.
The success of the CD cover mounts and the quality of the content assisted with creating the interest tat led to the acquisition of the Music Maker brand by Future Publishing.

Black Barn Studios[edit]

In 1995, Bridge Recordings expanded its production capability to include ownership of Black Barn Studios in Ripley, Surrey, the early home of Eric Clapton. From there, Brel produced and released fifteen promoted albums, two with the SAS Band; Queen keyboard player Spike Edney's all star band featuring musicians including; Chris Thompson, Roger Taylor, Peter Green, Ian Anderson, Tony Hadley, Roy Wood and Paul Young.
The 1997 release, the eponymously titled SAS Band album, also known as the 'Blue album' and the 2001 release "SAS Band Live".
Brel played on and produced the live version of Richard O'Brien's classic 'Time Warp.
in 1998 Brel produced and released Leo Sayer's Live in London[7] and Louis Ribeiro's Under African Skies.[8]

By the late 1990s, several events conspired to end sustainability of the Bridge Recordings business model. The growth of home recording technology meant a decline in demand for high cost professional recording services, which along with the shrinking sales of musical CD's as a new generation followed the 'download for free' model, all but ended the business motivation to pay for recordings for a shrinking market increasingly willing to pay for content. As a result the studio was sold to one of its busiest clients, Paul Weller.[9] Charlie Morgan left Elton John's band and moved to the United States where he resides in Nashville, while Terry Day sold Music Maker Publications.[10]

Personal Life[edit]

Brel married Catherine Smith in 1986, 'the Bryanston girl next door' after dating since 1979. They had one child, Mannousos John, born in Kingston-On-Thames in 1989. They divorced in 1992. Brel had a number of relationships subsequently. In 2009 his his second son Byron Broulidakis was born in Kingston-On-Thames. In 2013, after 4 years as a stay at home father, he lost an application in the British family court for once weekly overnight visits with his son. In 2014 he became resident in California. Despite being raised by a Greek Orthodox mother after the death of his Atheist father at age ten, Brel has been a lifelong atheist and is a vocal antitheist who believes religion will eventually be as widely condemned as racism and remembered as a child abusing hate crime.
Brel has accumulated a collection of historic stringed instruments including made to order marquee guitars by Martin, Gibson and Taylor.

New-age music[edit]

In 2001 Brel wrote his first album in the genre of new-age music[11] called "Angel Inspiration" which was released by New World Music. Encouragement in this genre of musical composition came from New Age author Diana Cooper, who was supported Brel's talent as a composer of 'meditation music' by including it on her range of spoken word meditation recordings. The commercial success of this album led to Brel exploring the medium more widely, recording and releasing a series of eight albums. Three in collaboration with Hugh Burns which have attracted considerable success both critically and commercially.

Between 2002 and 2006, Brel recorded and produced a series of 15 spoken word meditation CDs with self-help author Diana Cooper which prominently features his meditation music. The Diana Cooper meditation CD's remain popular choices in the spoken word meditation field, released by Findhorn Press.
In 2015 Brel released Laguna, his seventh album for Meditation and Wellness, working with Richard Niles in Laguna Beach.[12] In 2017 his eighth album was released, a solo effort called Meditation and Tranquility which produced a Streaming media hit, called 'Diana'.

Brel uses Taylor guitars on all the meditation music albums. Specifically a 2005 Taylor NS72


Brel has worked on several collaborations with guitarist and composer, Hugh Burns, including writing The Paradise Key[13] in 2003 which recalled events in the Iran Iraq war surrounding the religiously inspired 'human wave' attacks. He is the co writer of 'Alone' with Spike Edney, originally sung by Patti Russo and later a hit in California for Hugo Fernandes.[14]

Brel is the co writer of 'Suburban House' with Josh Phillips, originally sung by Leo Sayer and later a hit in Ukraine for Ani Lorak.[15]
21 of his most performed songs appear on the 2017 release "Riverbank Songwriting" including songs with Alan Tarney, Spike Edney and Josh Phillips.
In 2018 Brel wrote and produced What I Love by Hugo Fernandes. A seventeen song album of acoustic guitar and voice, performed by Hugo Fernandes. [13] Recorded in California and released by Andrew Brel Music on 15 September 2018.

The Emergency Bouzouki Player[edit]

Brel's first book, The Emergency Bouzouki Player was published in 2011. The book reflects a first hand account of conscription in the South African Army during the years of Apartheid and is the best selling book about South Africa's Border War outside of South Africa. The long term social consequences of forced conscription and the PTSD generation that returned from the border war without any medical help are widely explored. South African writer and intellectual John Oakley Smith described it as 'A book that should be compulsory reading in every South African school.'
In June 2017 The Emergency Bouzouki Player was banned from sale in all seven Emirates of the UAE where Amazon sells books and remains forbidden to residents of all Emirates.

One Day in Paris[edit]

Brel's second book is a novel, One Day in Paris. The account of a fictitious attack in Paris where former British Army officer, Dan Blake, a powerful PTSD affected sociopath with superior intelligence is recruited to mastermind a terror attack in Paris in which he learns how the American Military Industrial complex relies on new conflict to sustain growth. Described as a close up look at the 1% who control the 1% by ethicist and film-maker Stephen Trombley. In September 2017 One Day in ParisItalic text was banned from sale in all seven Emirates of the UAE where Amazon sells books and remains forbidden to residents of all Emirates.


  1. ^ "Ron Hubbard House". Retrieved 28 October 2018. External link in |website= (help)
  2. ^ The Emergency Bouzouki Player – Andrew Brel – Google Books. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  3. ^ "Bridge Recordings". Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  4. ^ "Ronnie Johnson – Give Them Enough Rope CD Album". 14 November 2006. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  5. ^ "Manfred Mann interview". Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Terry Britten interview". 25 June 1993. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  7. ^ "Leo Sayer – Live in London CD Album". Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  8. ^ "Jive Nation | Under African Skies | CD Baby Music Store". 23 October 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  9. ^ "Black Barn Studios : History". Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  10. ^ "History : Recording Magazine". 17 January 1994. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  11. ^ Andrew Brel. "Andrew Brel | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Paradise Key". Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  14. ^ "Alone". Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  15. ^ "Suburban House". Retrieved 28 October 2018.

13. Hugo Fernandes. What I love. Album release