Brel was born to Greek parents in the South African suburb of Bryanston, one of Johannesburg's affluent whites-only areas in 1960. He is a native Greek speaker, educated at Bryanston Primary, Bryanston High and Damelin College before completing first year at the University of the Witwatersrand medical school. In 1979, aged 18 he 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 narrowly escaped incarceration after publicly directing the words "Your bum stinks" towards South Africa's Leader P. W. Botha during a Dinner/Dance function for the Argentine Prime Minister.
After national service Andrew 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. Acting on the advice of a booking agent he adopted a shortened version of his name appearing professionally as Andy Brel for the first time in 1981. During this time he averaged over 300 paid appearances each year whilst still a full-time student, being reviewed on numerous occasions by The Star, then the most widely circulated news publication in South Africa.
In 1985 Andrew left Apartheid South Africa and emigrated to England working initially as a solo entertainer in London's musical circuit. He enjoyed a 3 year Saturday night sold out stint at Bo-Jangles, in Kingston-Upon-Thames, which at that time was the in-place for musicians, leading to many musical introductions and album recording opportunities and the start of a new life in the UK. From 1986 until 1991 he owned Hampton Court Studios, where he worked as a music writer and producer developing new talent, including the original demos of the Dogs D'Amour whilst continuing public performances as a guitarist/singer, often with other musicians including Duncan Mackay (10cc), John Edwards (Status Quo) and Ronnie Johnson (Van Morrison).
In 1989, Brel formed Bridge Recordings 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'. Brel began the production of cover mount CD's for the magazines of the Music Maker publishing group, producing five titles month at its peak which accounted for a total of over one million CD's produced with licensed musical content.
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.
During the 1990s this association 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, and songwriter Terry Britten.
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.
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 and Louis Ribeiro's Under African Skies.
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 favourite clients, Paul Weller. Charlie Morgan left Elton John's band and moved to the United States, while Terry Day sold Music Maker Publications.
In 2001 Brel wrote his first album in the genre of new-age music called "Angel Inspiration" which was released by New World Music and featured the Piano of Pete Stone. The commercial success of this album led to Brel working extensively in this medium, recording and releasing a series of seven albums which have all gone on to enjoy sales success. Brel recorded and produced a series of 15 spoken word meditation CDs with self-help author Diana Cooper which features his meditation music. The Diana Cooper meditation CD's remain best sellers 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.
Brel has worked on several collaborations with guitarist and composer, Hugh Burns, including writing The Paradise Key in 2003 which recalled events in the Iran Iraq war surrounding the religiously inspired 'human wave' attacks. Brel has had songs recorded by Patti Russo, Leo Sayer and the Ukrainian version of his song 'Suburban House' by Ani Lorak.
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 has gone on to become the best selling book about South Africa's Border War outside of South Africa.
Brel's second book is a novel, One Day in Paris. The account of a fictitious attack in Paris where protagonist, Dan Blake, a PTSD affected sociopath, experiences a Zappa inspired insight into 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.