Feature Stories

Mystery Rock Promoter Gabe Reed Left a Trail of Enemies and Lawsuits Around the World

Gabe Reed was supposed to be a ghost. The Dallas-based owner of Gabe Reed Productions brought together the Rock N’ Roll Allstars for a South American tour in 2012, but the promoter had disappeared on the third stop of the tour, hidden under sheets like a ghost, his former publicist Jeff Smith claimed. Knife-wielding South American concert promoters were trying to murder him for canceling seven out of the 10 stops the Allstars planned to perform, or to force him to hold the concerts anyway.

Reed materialized last week after an article appeared in the Dallas Observer chronicling the mayhem that ensued from the canceled shows for the Allstars, which included legends like Gene Simmons from KISS. Reed had refused to return the promoters' money, Smith says, or host the events because of low ticket sales. He supposedly had been using an alias, Smith claims, and still hadn’t been found after he caught a flight back to the States in the middle of the night.

Reed disputes those claims, outing himself as the unidentified promoter who was unable to be reached for the original story. In the process, he also opened the door to a litany of other, similar accusations that have been brought by other promoters.

“The South American promoters whose shows were canceled had their shows canceled because they refused to pay the full fee for their shows, per the contracts that they signed,” Reed insists. “Each and every one of them were given ample opportunity to make good on their obligations, but they refused and left us with no alternative but to cancel their shows. We went as far as to extend their time frame to comply to after the first show of the tour, but they refused to pay, allegedly because of poor ticket sales.”

Reed says he sympathized with the knife-wielding Ecuadorian gentleman whom Smith mentioned, but he simply couldn’t take the financial risk to host the show in hopes they would be paid afterward. “In the end, this is a business,” he says. “If a promoter can't pay an artist their fee, there is a good chance that they will not be able to pay for the fundamentals of staging a concert of this magnitude.”

He canceled seven of the 10 shows, despite fans treating the Rock N’ Roll Allstars as if they were the Beatles coming to America. South Americans weren’t happy with his decision, Reed says, so his security detail made the decision that it was best for him to leave the tour.

“Contrary to Mr. Smith's account, there were no locals paid off and no one was smuggled out with blankets,” he says.

Reed further claims that his other tour, called "Metal All Stars," has played Eastern Europe and South America since this South American debacle occurred in 2012, and they were "wildly successful." He also says KISS' Simmons has remained a good friend and he has no issues doing business with him.

"In fact, anyone that has ever worked with me on a tour or show has always been paid as agreed," Reed says. 

Not everyone who's worked with Reed agrees.  
Evenpro Holding C.V. claimed it had paid $270,000 to Reed for the Rock N’ Roll Allstars to perform in Venezuela, but Reed canceled the concert and refused to refund the money, according to Evenpro’s June 2012 lawsuit filed in Dallas County. Michael K. Hurst and A. Shonn Brown, both Dallas-based attorneys, represented Evenpro, which won a judgment for more than $300,000 in October 2012, yet still haven't been able to collect the money. 

"People have called us looking for him," Brown says. "But we have not been able to help them because he's a slippery guy." 

Evenpro Holding wasn’t the first or the last to file a lawsuit against Gabe Reed Productions. In August 2011, Ariel Vigo, an Argentine concert promoter, sued Reed in federal court in Dallas, claiming breach of contract for Reed’s failure to provide a promised Mötley Crüe concert in Argentina. Vigo said Reed had kept a $150,000 deposit Vigo had paid.

Reed did hold the Mötley Crüe concert in Argentina, but with a different concert promoter. He admitted he made a false representation to Vigo and that he knew the statement was false when he made it, according to the lawsuit. Vigo argued that this deception cost him more than a $1 million in lost profits. The court agreed, granting Vigo’s motion for summary judgement on March 4, 2013, and awarding him $1.4 million.

The court's ruling indicated that not only did Vigo’s attorneys and Reed’s former attorneys have a problem communicating with Reed, but also the court's own attempts to contact him had been “similarly futile.” It was as if he had disappeared like a ghost.

The same month Vigo filed his lawsuit in federal court, Ava Zoller and her daughter Hannah Madison Taylor filed a suit against Gabe Reed Productions in Dallas County district court, claiming Reed had “fraudulently represented himself to be a licensed attorney and engaged his services as an ‘entertainment attorney’ practicing in the state of Texas,” according to the August 2, 2011, lawsuit.

Taylor initially paid Reed an $8,000 retainer fee, and Zoller and Taylor claim that Reed, over the course of three years, bilked Taylor’s mother’s retirement proceeds, investments and life savings for more than $357,000. They allege Reed conned her mother into three separate investments of $100,000 each, promising that Taylor would be the opening act for concert tours, including Mötley Crüe. They later confirmed that Reed had only secured one date and failed to obtain event insurance, losing about $57,000 of Zoller’s money when the event rained out. 

“Reed is holding money belonging to plaintiffs, or has fraudulently stolen the money for personal use,” Zoller and Taylor claimed in their lawsuit. “As a result of failing to open the tour, Hannah Madison Taylor lost influence and credibility with the circle of artists needed for her to be successful in her genre in the Dallas area, and is now having to leave for another market in order to pursue her career.”

Taylor and her mother won their case, but Reed still hasn’t paid the judgment. In fact, Taylor’s new attorney is still searching for his assets. Dallas-based entertainment attorney David Small represented Taylor and her mother in the original court proceedings. He claimed that Reed was quite evasive and fought tooth and nail to prevent their accessing certain banking records.

“It’s one of the things that make people feel as though the music business is shady for the most part, because of stuff like this,” Small says.

Shortly after the Rock N’ Roll Allstars tour debacle, Reed began promoting the Metal All Stars tour, which showcased former members of Queensryche, Dream Theater, Disturbed and Iron Maiden, who are all supposed to join together onstage to rock across Europe and South America.
In a March 14, 2014, lawsuit, Eli Rubin claimed that Reed cheated him out of $15,000, which Rubin paid to open up for Aerosmith at an October 27, 2013, concert in Mexico City, and another $50,000, which Rubin had paid Reed to be the opening act on the Metal All Stars Tour in South America November 13-29, 2013.

"Unfortunately, I didn’t do enough due diligence," Rubin says. 

Rubin’s lawsuit says Reed told Rubin that the Aerosmith concert had been sold to another promoter who didn’t want Rubin’s band to open, yet he failed to return the $15,000 deposit. When the Metal All Stars Tour in South America was also canceled, Reed offered to shift the $65,000, according to the lawsuit, and waive the additional $15,000 of the $80,000 needed for Rubin’s band “Superfix” to be the opener of the Metal All Stars European tour. But Rubin had to agree to loan Reed an additional $45,000 “to make a deposit for the lead artist on the Metal All Stars European tour,” according to Rubin's lawsuit.

Rubin says he knew about the South American's lawsuit against Reed, but he claims that Reed told him that he'd settled with the guy and got him some other shows. Reed, he says, told him that it wasn't his fault, that he wanted to protect the artists because of electrical storms. "He’s got it down pat," Rubin says. "He’ll take you out on his boat, take you to some private event and give you front-row seats to an Ozzy [Osbourne] concert. You’re his good buddy. 

"But here’s the thing: He preys on people who are passionate about getting their music and their band out there," Rubin adds.

Reed breached all of his agreements with Rubin, according to the lawsuit, and he was sued for $110,000. Rubin claims he later learned Reed had taken the same $15,000 deposit for the same spot opening for Aerosmith from multiple bands. "Nobody got to play," he says. "I don't think Reed had an agreement with that concert at all." 

Rubin won a judgment, he says, for an amount between $400,000 and $500,000 against Reed, yet he still hasn't received payment. Like others who have sued Reed, he still can't seem to locate him, but he says that the FBI has contacted his attorney about Reed. 

Reed refused to discuss the lawsuits with the Observer, and did not return phone calls and emails. When he originally reached out to dispute Smith's account of the South American tour, Reed claimed he was working in California but still based in Dallas. 

Stop Gabe Reed Productions Fraud is a Facebook page that appeared online shortly after the Metal All Stars tours fell apart. The anonymous creator or creators were seeking information from European promoters who may have similar problems, fans who weren’t refunded for meet-and-greet tickets and other bands who weren’t paid.

“Gabe Reed booked the first round of the Metal Allstars show to promoters in Eastern Europe that included members of high profile bands that had declined his offer well in advance of the date,” the Facebook site says. “He sold the shows then when he got called on it, he promised replacement with other artists with the same name value. Did he follow through? Of course not.”
Others soon started posting comments.

“I was an investor in some of his tours that he lied through his teeth about having promoted,” one commenter wrote. “I also learned the hard way that he isn't a licensed attorney, doesn't actually own his place in Malibu and is a well-known crook.”

“I'm lucky enough not to have invested money,” wrote another. “But I was booked as monitor/stage crew for the 2015 Metal All Stars run and so I did lose the money the job would have paid me …”

The Facebook page began posting court documents related to Reed’s practices, and Reed tried to shut down the page — but to no avail.

“For those asking, we will not reveal our identity nor will we remove any posts from this page,” the anonymous authors of the page wrote. “If Gabe Reed wants this page and all of its contents removed then he needs to start paying the money back he owes us.

“To make it fair to everyone who is owed a lot of money, we won't identify who we are. But once we are paid, this page will be deleted. I know you owe a lot of people, Mr. Reed, but it's in your best interest to figure it out and pay us back. Everything posted here is factual and you can't argue with the truth.”

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Christian McPhate is an award-winning journalist who specializes in investigative reporting. He covers crime, the environment, business, government and social justice. His work has appeared in several publications, including the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Miami Herald, San Antonio Express News and The Washington Times.