Diana is gone, too. She filed to divorce Reed in 2016 and recently filed a lawsuit in Collin County, claiming he was not paying the $13,500 in monthly spousal support he owes. She said she was surviving on food stamps and welfare in Malibu and wanted the court to allow her to sell Reed’s “sailboat.”
"The only money I have received for my support has been borrowed from family and friends or from me pawning my personal possessions," she says. "Gabriel and I do not have any community accounts from which I can withdraw money from, and I have no other way to collect support."
Reed was only required to pay $3,200 monthly spousal support to his first wife, Mary, when they divorced in September 2009 in Collin County. He wasn’t required to pay child support, and they shared managing conservatorship over their two children even though she’d been granted a protective order because she claimed he had called her vulgar names, threatened to kill her and physically abused her. She told several horror stories, including one about Reed purposely crashing their car into a tree at Stonebridge Country Club in May 2008. “Fuck off and die, bitch,” she recalled him telling her.
Reed doesn’t look imposing or intimidating standing in the doorway with an electronic jail monitor blinking on his ankle. He looks kind of soft, like a bunny, as one source says, in dark shorts and a T-shirt, his graying brown hair pulled into a ponytail. At 46 years old, he still bears some resemblance to his rock ‘n’ roll persona, Tomi Child, as he prepares to say what many wanted men say when a journalist approaches: “Talk with my attorney.”
There was plenty to talk about: numerous lawsuits filed against him by aspiring musicians and promotors and investors of his rock ‘n’ roll star tours accusing him of fraud, the failed 2015 Metal All Stars tour and his recent plan for the Titans of Rock tour that an attorney for Kiss’ Gene Simmons told federal agents Reed did not have permission to solicit.
His claims about the 2015 Titans of Rock tour would lead to a criminal indictment.
“Reed told investors that certain artists had agreed to participate in events and that their funds would be used for the events and they would receive a profit on those funds,” FBI Special Agent Ryan Heaton wrote in Reed’s April 19 arrest complaint. “Rather than using the funds for the events, Reed would use investors’ funds for personal expenses."
Tour investors from across Europe, South America and the U.S. had been reaching out to the Observer since an article about Reed’s arrest appeared online May 2. They’d been sharing their stories of losing money simply because they had known someone who had vouched for Reed. Some claimed they wired money and never saw it again. One claimed he lost $1.9 million; all opened their emails in a similar way, though with slight turns of phrase: “I am one of the fucked promoters by the thief Gabe Reed.”
"He is a con artist, and would screw his own mother if he could," his former partner, Kendra Helms, says.
Many of his victims seemed to reiterate what one of Reed’s former investors, a 34-year-old billionaire named Sebastian Knowlton, claimed when he discussed losing his $262,000 investment in a Guns N’ Roses tour and a Bon Jovi tour: “Realistically, I conceded long ago that there is no recourse and hope that he goes to jail. He’s defrauded so many people. I have fortune enough but have heard such horrible stories. He deserves to go to jail.”
None of the sources the Observer interviewed really knows why Reed, according to federal agents, spent the last decade ripping off concert promoters, musicians and fans from around the world. Some say it’s because he is a “dick.” Others say he was simply a byproduct of a lifestyle he couldn’t control.
“[But] alcohol and drugs are not an excuse for stealing someone’s dreams,” says one acquaintance who wishes to remain anonymous. Reed thrived in a culture where silence oftentimes was the best option because appearance means everything. It was the kind of culture where victims were often blamed for making bad business deals.
Another reason Reed was able to get away with his alleged scams for so long is that most of his lawsuits hadn’t become public knowledge, and the ones that did remained buried on court websites until he brought his former partner, Kendra Helms, unknowingly into one of his schemes and nearly ruined her reputation in the music industry.
“He is a con artist, and would screw his own mother if he could,” Helms says. “There are a lot of people who like him, but it’s good for musicians to learn about him. He is the poster boy for what not to do.”
“Do you think you’re going to be a rock star?” documentary maker Penelope Spheeris asked young glam metal singer Tomi Child in the late 1980s rockumentary Decline of Western Civilization II: the Metal Years.
“Yeah, I’m going to be a famous rock star,” Child answered.
Child, whose real name was Gabe Reed, looked like a famous rock star with his long, Nikki Sixx-styled hair died black and white evenly down the middle. He wore makeup more in line with Vince Neil from his Shout at the Devil days and a pentagram around his neck. “I think it will come pretty easily for me, you know, because I’m different than everyone else,” he said.
He was the hottest commodity to hit the Sunset Strip since Mötley Crüe popularized glam metal in the early ’80s. His voice sounded heavenly, sources say, on the demo cassette tape from his time supposedly singing with the Pharaohs in New York. That voice eventually led to a contract with Gene Simmons’ new record label in the late ’80s, sources say, until people realized Reed wasn’t the one singing on the cassette tape.
Sources say they still don't know who was singing on that tape.
When he was tapped to appear in the rockumentary Decline of Western Civilization II: the Metal Years in the late ’80s, Reed didn’t realize that his fame would be tied to something far more criminal than passing off someone else’s vocals as his own. In an April 19 criminal complaint filed in a federal court in California, the Dallas concert promoter was charged with two counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. He faces at least 20 years in federal prison if convicted.
Like other aspiring glam metal artists, Reed’s rock ‘n’ roll dreams expressed in Decline of Western Civilization II: the Metal Years died a couple of years after his appearance in part two of the three-part rockumentary. Thrash metal from bands like Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer had been slowly pounding the mascara off the glam metal scene for years, and the grunge movement, which spawned bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam, had appeared on the horizon to finish it off.
But in the late ’80s, sources say, the LA music industry acted as if Reed had the talent to change the face of rock ‘n’ roll with his skunk-colored hair and angelic voice. Of course, it also helped that he had made an appearance in the rockumentary and won over Spheeris, who would later direct Wayne’s World. Sources say they moved in together for a short time, and notable musicians in the music scene began to take notice of the talent on Reed’s demo tape. (Spheeris couldn't be reached for comment.)
The problem was no one could get him to sing.
The details of why Spheeris threw Reed out of her place are unclear, but sources claim Reed moved in with one of their mutual friends who was also a musician. Friends even invited him to join their jam and unleash his angelic vocals, but they say Reed always had an excuse for why he couldn’t sing. It was a pattern he continued repeating even after he landed a record deal with Simmons’ new record label, Simmons Records. He put it off for so long that sources claim people began to take notice, but it was a guitarist who really didn’t know how to play who discovered Reed didn’t know how to sing and told a mutual friend.
“He could tell that I knew and kept squirming as if I were going to put a bullet [in his persona],” one source says.
Eventually, word about Reed began to spread, and the legend of Tomi Child erupted into flames.
Reed claimed he had worked as an attorney for another notable Dallas trial lawyer shortly after he graduated from law school in 1998. His former colleague says he had the Corvette to prove it. Reed claimed it was a gift from his old boss, who’d given it to him as a bonus.
“There was nothing about him that made me question him,” his former colleague says. “Looking back now, I realize he never signed any legal document.”
It’s unclear why the Dallas law firm didn’t catch that Reed hadn’t passed the state bar exam before he was hired. Reed’s former colleagues claim it may have been his resume, which they say was rather impressive. His bar number also looked legit, though they later learned it was only one digit off from one of their former colleagues’.
Looking back, Reed’s colleague recalls some of the red flags, including the fact that Reed was probably the only attorney in the U.S. who didn’t hang his law license on his office wall.
The Dallas law firm found out Reed wasn’t an attorney two years after he was hired in the early 2000s when he tried to accept another offer from a different law firm that conducted a background check.
The Texas License Examiners Board reports Reed still doesn’t have a law license, but that didn’t stop him from calling himself an entertainment attorney for more than a decade, according to an August 2011 lawsuit filed by former clients Ava Zoller and her daughter Hannah Madison Taylor.
“He would have been a good attorney,” his former colleague says.
Reed wrote in a March 11, 2009, press release, “Entertainment attorney Gabe Reed has secured a recording contract for legendary platinum rockers Great White and confirms that the band will release its new album, Rising, in Europe on March 13, 2009, via Frontiers Records.”
Great White’s current management replied to the Observer’s request for comment about Reed with an email that claimed the previous band representative, Obi Steinman, had worked him. “We haven’t met him, know him or want to have anything to do with him,” Amber “Bridget” Kendall of Great White Entertainment Inc. wrote in a May 10 email.
Russian metal band Pushking's experience with Reed was different from Great White's. Pushking's manager, Oleg Savilov, says he was satisfied because Reed secured rock stars Alice Cooper, Kiss frontman Paul Stanley and ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons to appear on the Russian metal band’s new record.
"Did we have problems? For sure yes, but not only with Reed and not only because of his job. A lot of unreliable partners work for showbiz," says Oleg Savilov, manager of Pushking.
“[He] was one of few people who helped us in negotiation process,” Savilov says. “Some of them accepted our offer, some not, but this happened or not happened not only because of [Reed]. This is a usual situation in every business. Did we have problems? For sure yes, but not only with Reed and not only because of his job. A lot of unreliable partners work for showbiz. This is how it works, and as a manager you should always keep it in your mind. For sure Reed is not an angel, and if some authorities have an interest, I think they have a reason, and if people say that he did some wrong things, maybe they were right. I do not know exactly their situation, and for sure I cannot judge.”
Some sources claim Reed was able to keep up his masquerade for so long because entertainment laws in Texas aren’t as strict as the ones in California. Texas is not known as “being musician friendly” when it comes to entertainment law.
But the Houston Chronicle reports that California, Florida and Texas do require a special talent agency license for someone representing artists as Reed also claimed to be doing. The California talent license costs $225 annually, while Texas' is slightly more expensive at $400 annually. Texas also requires a bond of $10,000 for talent agencies. It’s a fact Reed’s former clients, Zoller and Taylor, brought up in their August 2011 lawsuit filed in the 116th District Court of Dallas County.
“Despite the fact that [he] is not licensed in the state of Texas, Gabe Reed had accepted an $8,000 retainer to serve as Hannah’s entertainment attorney/talent agent,” Dallas attorney David Small claimed in the lawsuit. “Reed is also not licensed to serve as a talent agent in the state of Texas.”
Over the course of three years, Zoller says she invested more than $300,000 from her retirement proceeds, investments and life savings because Reed claimed her daughter would be the opening act for Green Day, Robin Gibb, Vince Neil and Mötley Crüe. “Reed constantly lied to Hannah, and had her go so far as rehearsing a band and paying expenses associated with her opening for a tour [that he] knew would never occur,” Small wrote in the lawsuit. “As a result of failing to open the tour, Hannah 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 moved to Los Angeles but couldn’t be reached for comment.
The rock ‘n’ roll business is full of people who don’t want to shine the spotlight on being conned out of money for an album that didn’t come together or for a tour that didn’t happen. Many sources didn’t want to speak on record about their dealings with Reed. Some worried that being associated with Reed might raise questions about their business judgment. Others were simply embarrassed that the almost-famous rock star kid from Decline of Western Civilization II: the Metal Years had taken money from them.
But the almost-famous rock kid did find some success in his early years, or the Rock ‘N’ Roll Allstars 2012 South American tour never would have happened. According to his press releases, most of his success involved getting legendary rockers to appear on the new album of the Russian metal band Pushking, securing record deals for ’80s heavy metal bands like Great White, and lining up shows and South American tours for legends like Gibb from the Bee Gees, Mötley Crüe and singer Neil and his hero, Simmons from Kiss.
Reed claimed in a press release that Mötley Crüe’s May 2011 South American tour was a success. “The shows received great reviews and the response by the fans to the tour was amazing,” he wrote, but he failed to mention the lawsuits for breach of contract that followed him after the tour.
One lawsuit filed Aug. 16, 2011, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas claimed Reed had taken Argentine concert promoter Ariel Vigo’s money for one of Neil’s tour dates yet resold the same tour date to another promoter. Reed never returned Vigo’s money and tried to get the lawsuit dismissed in October 2011, but the federal court denied his motion and ruled in Vigo’s favor nearly two years later.
“Reed has admitted that he made a false representation to Vigo regarding the Mötley Crüe performance that was material to the contractual relationship between the two,” Senior U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish wrote in his March 4, 2013, opinion.
Fish ordered Reed to pay $1.4 million for breaching the contract, but it’s a judgment he still hasn’t paid.
“Gabe plays the game of fatigue,” Vigo says. “[But] we will chase him around [the world] until he pays.”
Another lawsuit filed Sept. 1, 2011, in Harris County involved Dallas businessman Randall Reed’s Starbase Aviation company and the private jet services provided for Mötley Crüe on the South American tour in May 2011. Gabe Reed, who is not related to Randall Reed, agreed to pay $175,000, plus any additional charges incurred. He later agreed to pay 50 percent of his portion of the gross revenue from the tour ticket sales but paid only $40,000 total. The court awarded a judgment against Gabe Reed. Donald Gould, a Houston-based attorney who represented Starbase Aviation, told the Observer that Reed still hasn’t paid it.
Then another lawsuit appeared in February 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas. This time Reed owed $90,000 to 4G Producciones, an Argentine concert promoter in Buenos Aires, after he promised to repay it for finding a third party to cover part of the money he owed Magusa Logistics to transport Mötley Crüe’s equipment. Reed wrote in a May 18, 2011, email to 4G Producciones that he would repay $90,000 plus 20 percent interest in 30 days. Instead, Reed implemented delay tactics he had mastered in emails.
"I lost over $600,000 on this tour, and money has been very tight for me also over the last few weeks,” he wrote in an email a few weeks later. “Thankfully, I have some other deals that are almost concluded which will get things back in order and will enable me to pay you so please be patient.”
A man named Carlos from 4G Producciones struggled to be patient, continued to question Reed about the money for another month and eventually began pleading in his June 2011 emails: “Gabe, please send my money. I need my money!!!! Please!!”
An LA booking agent from Artists Worldwide named Chuck Bernal threw in his two cents in a June 7, 2011, email: “I am also owed from Carlos, and he won’t pay till you pay him. Send him a wire today. You already have a bunch of enemies in Latin America. You don’t need more.”
“I saw that several of the shows were canceled,” she says. “But he had a legitimate reason because South America doesn’t have the laws that we do here. It’s also not uncommon for shows and tours to be canceled last minute.”
Helms didn’t know about the multiple lawsuits surrounding Reed’s earlier tours in South America with Mötley Crüe, nor did she know that Rock ‘N’ Roll Allstars tour manager Tony Sullivan had also filed a lawsuit against Reed for breach of contract. Sullivan claimed in a May 11, 2012, lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court that Reed retained him for an initial payment of $30,000, as well as a percentage of the profits from the tour, which Reed assured him would be at least an additional $150,000. Reed also would pay his expenses. They settled out of court in May 2013.
Helms also didn’t know a South American promotional company named Evenpro Entertainment Holdings had filed a lawsuit against Reed, his daughter Sofia and his wife, Diana, claiming they had canceled the Rock ‘N’ Roll Allstars tour stop in Venezuela but never refunded the $270,000 Evenpro had invested. The court awarded a $300,000 judgment that Reed still hasn’t paid.
“People have called us looking for him,” Dallas attorney Michael K. Hurst, who represented Evenpro, told the Observer in June 2016. “But we have not been able to help them because he’s a slippery guy.”
Helms, who hails from Texas but now lives in North Carolina, began talking with Reed in late April 2013 about putting together another South American tour to take place in November 2013. This one would be called Metal All Stars, offer some of the biggest names in metal and possibly benefit Ride For Dime Inc., a nonprofit that would face its own financial issues a few years later when its president, Rob Eichelberger, stepped down in the midst of controversy.
"In my case, he thought he was dealing with some naive woman who he could take advantage of and run right over, but he was wrong," Helms says.
A few months later, Helms secured oral commitments from several rock stars, including Anthrax’s Joey Belladonna, Shadows Fall’s Brian Fair and Ministry’s Aaron Rossi. She received a soft commitment from Pantera and Down vocalist Philip Anselmo, who later pulled out of the tour, but found out in early July 2013 that Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford couldn’t appear. They approached Slayer vocalist Tom Araya with an offer to headline the tour that would later move from South America to Europe because, Helms says, Reed wasn’t receiving any offers for tour dates.
In a July 26, 2013, email to Araya’s manager, Rick Sales, Reed tried to debunk the rumors surrounding the canceled dates on the Rock ‘N’ Roll Allstars tour and argued that the shows he promoted were successful. He told Helms the tour could score a cool $1.3 million for 10 shows.
“These are my shows, with my money at stake,” Reed told Sales in the email. “In addition to promoting the shows, I am the one who is underwriting all aspects of the show, including the paying of all staff, transportation, rehearsal, production, etc. If I bring in a local promoter, it’s only to assist me with the marketing and logistics of the show on a local basis.
“Tom has always been targeted as the headliner of the Metal All Stars and as specified below he will receive favored nations billing,” he added. “I know that he is the real star of the show, and he will be paid and billed as such.”
Sales declined his offer and replied a few days later with a reminder not to use Araya’s name or likeness or Slayer’s name or likeness to market the Metal All Stars show. “Looking at the participants and the fact that you are actually only guaranteeing five of the 10 shows, this is just not the right look, the right deal or the right timing,” Sales wrote in the July 29, 2013, email to Reed.
Sales’ warning didn’t stop Reed from including Araya’s name in the lineup of rock stars he claimed would be performing on the Metal All Stars European tour when he signed a deal with Interest Media Group, granting it rights to solicit shows from local promoters in Europe, according to the October 17, 2013, contract.
That night, they released a press release basically blaming the internet for inaccurate and unconfirmed reports and reiterated that Araya would not be part of the lineup.
The next day, Helms learned that European promoters had also announced Marty Friedman, formerly of Megadeth, would also be joining Araya and Halford on stage. She asked Reed why promoters would make that announcement when Araya and Halford had declined their offers and Friedman had been approached with an offer, but discussions had stalled in June 2013. “His response was that the ‘Russians were just doing it to boost sales,’” Helms recalls.
Helms says she knew what he was saying was false and asked Reed to send her the contract he had signed with Interest Media Group, but he didn't include the “Annex 2” that listed the artist lineup, including Araya, Halford and Friedman.
Helms wouldn’t find out what really happened until early February 2014, after she built a rapport with people from Interest Media Group and asked why the Metal All Stars tour had to be so complicated. She received all the documents, and she says she realized that Reed not only deceived Interest Media Group and the other European promoters who had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into the tour but also her and, in turn, the musicians she considers part of her extended family.
“I’m calling this shit for like it is!” she wrote in a Feb. 25, 2014, email to Reed. “You stated that you had confirmed Rob Halford and Tom Araya on the Metal All Stars tour, and you signed the contract with Interest Media Group stating so when you knew full well that you didn’t have them and weren’t going to have them. That is deception.”
The Interest Media team agreed and wrote in a Feb. 25, 2014, email to Reed, “You sold us something you didn’t have the right to sell to begin with and accepted wire payment for it as a deposit, and had we known the truth we would not have sent a penny and avoided this awful mess. You have an agreement with a U.S. entity and not with some promoter in South America or Eastern Europe that could be easily dismissed by an expensive bureaucracy due to the distance. This is not only a civil matter for damages. This IS CRIMINAL, and you as a lawyer should be very aware of the legal consequences of such actions!”
Somehow Helms, Interest Media Group and the promoters pulled off the Metal All Stars European tour in March 2014 with a completely different lineup that didn’t include Anselmo, Araya, Halford or even Neil, who had planned to make an appearance. A two-day stop at a closed-down strip club with the capacity of 400 people turned out to be the highlight of the tour because of the intimacy of the show with Black Label Society’s Zakk Wylde, Ozzy Osbourne's Rob "Blasko" Nicholson and Anthrax’s Joey Belladonna. But many European promoters lost money and their reputations because of Reed’s actions.
"In my case, he thought he was dealing with some naive woman who he could take advantage of and run right over, but he was wrong once I found out what he was, and that is a fraud. I had his number and knew what needed to be done in order for the tour to actually happen," Helms says. "I have had enough experience dealing with men like him in the industry that I knew what to do and say to get a reaction, and I purposely did just that."
After the tour was over, a “Stop Gabe Reed Productions” Facebook page was created, and promoters from around the world began sharing their Reed experiences. Reed's lawsuits also began appearing on the page. Reed tried to host another Metal All Stars tour in 2015, but he later canceled the tour, and promoters claimed he failed to refund the money or reimburse expenses.
“He was thinking I was just like everybody else and would eventually get fed up [with trying to get the money],” Helms says.
She wasn’t like everyone else. She began sharing information with an FBI agent from the white-collar crime squad whom Interest Media Group had contacted shortly after the Metal All Stars tour in April 2014. “The level of the fraud ... you just don’t think it is possible,” Helms says. “But I connected him [the FBI agent] to all the right people.”
Federal agents claim he’s conned about $1.9 million out of 15 victims, though sources say both numbers are much higher. It seems as if every tour he put together ended in lawsuits. The first Metal All Stars tour and an Aerosmith one to Mexico led El Rubin from the band Superfix to file a breach of contract lawsuit March 14, 2014, in a California Superior Court in Los Angeles, claiming he was owed more than $100,000 and questioning the legitimacy of Gabe Reed Productions LLC.
It is unclear how Reed was able to sell tours under his production company’s name when the Texas Secretary of State forfeited its existence Jan. 28, 2011, because Reed had failed either to file a franchise tax return or pay the tax due. There are also questions of whether he paid the IRS for the money he claimed he was earning from the tours.
The Metal All Stars crew from the 2015 tour headed online to the Ripoff Report website to post an email stream with Reed that offered him a $29,535 settlement for the failed 2015 European Metal All Stars tour. The headline read, “Gabe Reed Productions aka Gabe Reed aka Metal All Stars Failed to Pay an Agreed Cancellation Fee and Reimbursements ….”
Reed was living like a ghost, dodging judgments and haunting places like Las Vegas before he headed home to Texas in late 2016. He also had begun working with an aspiring metal star from Dallas who a source claims was conned out of $30,000 that his grandfather had left for him to go to college. The aspiring rock star was concerned about his name being used and didn’t return calls for comment.
Reed was also working with a landlord who had little music industry experience yet was persuaded to invest money into the 2015-16 Titans of Rock tour that would make stops in Asia, Europe and South America and purportedly net nearly a $4 million profit with stars like Kiss bassist Simmons and former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley.
“The basic deal is that an investor would come in with $1 million which is used to cover the main stars’ initial deposits,” Reed wrote in a Sept. 25, 2015, email. “Once they are secured I will sell the shows to various promoters for $550k each which will cover the $1 million put in by your group and the remaining tour expenses. The profit would come from the net of the promoter fees (after expense) and the merchandise, meet & greet sales and sponsorships [of] which we own 10 percent. The net to the investor would be (more than) $1.9 million plus $1 million put in which would be 50 percent of the net.”
The landlord sent him two wire payments of $50,000 in early October 2015, but by early December 2015, the FBI claims, Reed depleted the money, spending at places like Spirit Halloween store, Four Seasons Beverly Hills and Mr. Chow restaurant in Beverly Hills. He also spent it on child support, a birthday and some kind of settlement.
When questioned about his various lawsuits, Reed’s delay tactics that many sources came to know quite well came into play. “If I could call you maybe,” he says. “Let me talk to my lawyer first. He was actually going to contact you today or tomorrow.”
His lawyer didn’t reach out but said in an earlier interview that the Titans of Rock tour was simply a business disagreement. But it’s unclear how he can make that claim when Simmons, who owns the Titans of Rock trademark, had his New York attorney send Reed a cease and desist letter when he discovered Reed was using his name to sell a tour in July 2015, and the FBI reported in the April 19 criminal complaint that they never reached an agreement to perform in the tour.
“I’d like to give you the opportunity to give some kind of comment about their claims,” the reporter said.
“We talked about this last night,” Reed says. “I’m aware of your story. So if you give my attorney a call, we’ll have some people for you to talk to.”
But there was no one else to interview.