Audio mastered and restored by Patrick W. Engel in September 2021. (www.engel-mastering.com)
When the late great Rhett Forrester left New York’s Riot after their 1983 »Born In America« album, it did not take too long for him to start work on his first solo album. »Gone With The Wind« was originally issued on French label Bernett Records in 1984. However, not a lot of people know that it was basically just a last-minute substitute for an aborted solo record by Virgin Steele guitarist and founding member Jack Starr.
Legendary Rods man Carl Canedy, who played drums on »Gone With The Wind« and produced the album, knows the entire story. “I first met Rhett through Jack Starr,” he begins his talk. “Jack had invited me and Garry Bordonaro [bassist of The Rods"> to perform with him at Le Bourget Festival outside of Paris, France. I first met Rhett on the plane to France. He and guitarist Paul Kayen drank all the liquor on the plane, or so the flight attendant said. Rhett and I hit it off immediately. We had quite a bit in common in our musical journeys. Although The Rods and Riot had never performed together (which seems odd looking back on it, as we were both New York bands and had similar followings) both bands were playing the same type of concert dates and on the same circuit. Rhett was a really cool hang and a true rock star. He definitely had charisma … for better or worse. I was really sad when I received the news of his death in 1994. I had lost a friend but the music world had lost a great talent with so much more to give. Rhett was the essence of a rock star in every way. It’s sad he died so young.”
Under the name of “New York All Stars”, Carl Canedy (drums), Garry Bordonaro (bass), Paul Kayen (guitars), Rhett Forrester (vocals) and Jack Starr (guitars) were booked to play the “Breaking Sound Festival” in Paris Le Bourget in August 1984. “And let’s not forget that Neil Turbin [first singer for Anthrax, and also in Bible Black"> was with us,” adds Carl Canedy. “He came to rehearsals but did not sing at the gig. He came out on stage with Dany Terbeche and Venom to say hi to the crowd. At first it was Virgin Steele, then it was Rhett Forrester plus special guests. Jack Starr spoke with some people at Le Bourget saying it was the Jack Starr band.”
Following the gig, the original plan was for Jack Starr to record his new solo record in France. However, it didn’t quite pan out like this. “I’m a bit fuzzy on the actual circumstances,” confesses Canedy, “but I believe Jack and Rhett had a falling out. I, for some reason, became the default interpreter between the French and the Yanks. Dany and Christiane Terbeche were the ones hosting the event and the album. I suggested that rather than send everyone home, Rhett record a solo album. Rhett loved the idea immediately and so did our French hosts. So I guess I am the one who is responsible. Danny secured a record deal, and we recorded »Gone With The Wind« at a small studio owned by Max Waldberg [situated in the backyard of an old castle">.”
“Eric Villalonga was our driver,” remembers Carl about the actual time in the studio in France, “a really wonderful guy who shuttled us back and forth each day and most nights of the week into Paris for sightseeing etc. Fabrice Sauré was our engineer. We called him ‘Young Jedi’. I understand now that they call him ‘Darth Vader’. He is a great guy and engineer. We still stay in touch from time to time and meet up when I’m in Paris. It was a process to write and record the album. I spent quite a bit of our time with Paul Kayen. Paul was such a great guy to work with and an amazing guitarist.”
The musicians spent spent almost three full months in France for the production of »Gone With The Wind«. Carl Canedy laughs: “I can assure you that I was not milking my time there for a vacation. Remember that we had to write the album, rehearse it and arrange the songs prior to entering the studio. We were not a ‘band’. We were musicians who wrote an album under odd circumstances. We wrote the album together. Garry and I were a part of every song written. I had Rhett sign for the songs I have credit on. Once, I believe Warner Brothers Publishing came into the picture, Rhett tried hard to cut Garry and me out. Not one of his better traits. What’s the saying: Money is the root of all evil? In hindsight I would have knocked this out in two weeks. We used electronic drums, which ate up a few days. The room was very small so placement of amps was a couple of days etc. Time flies when you’re having fun.” He adds: “In hindsight I would have been better off using real drums. To put things in perspective, the room was very small and I was concerned about natural drums. I think we could have gotten a great drum sound, but at the time I was into as modern a sound as possible. The Scorpions and Priest and others had been using electronic enhancements, so I thought I using an electronic kit.”
How was it for Carl Canedy working with Rhett in the studio, was the singer disciplined or did he party a lot and not concentrate on the work? “I used to work that vocals would be done last to keep the quality high on the recording,” he explains his strategy. “Rhett had plenty of time to party prior to doing his vocals. Once he arrived at the studio, he was on the money from note one.
I love his harmonica on ‘Live With Me’ [by the Rolling Stones">. A song I suggested based on his voice. I ran his harp through the Marshall and cranked it. It sounds really good. I felt we needed additional time for the album. I do really like how he sings it and I love his harmonica on that recording. I also love the song ‘The Last Thing I Do’. Having been such a huge part of writing and arranging the songs, however, I can’t choose one over the other.”
“I would also like to stress that Paul Kayen is a really nice guy and an amazing guitarist,” adds the drummer. “He was easy to hang with, work with and he totally let Rhett’s sometimes volatile temperament roll off his back. As hard a working guy as I’ve ever worked with.“
»Gone With The Wind« was actually originally supposed to come out via Warner Bros. in the States but this never happened, the original release was very much limited to the French edition (on Bernett Records) back at the time, wasn’t it? “It’s a mystery!,” exclaims Carl Canedy. “Something happened to the master tapes shortly after we left Paris. I wanted to re-mix the album. I didn’t attend mastering and I’m not sure what happened but it was not the album we had signed off on.“
And this was actually the end for Carl Canedy working with Rhett Forrester as he was not involved in the making of his second solo album »Even The Score«. “I was not!,” he confirms. “I had helped him secure a deal with David Carpin for Shatter Records. He was working with our ex-road manager and there were some serious drug issues happening. I’ve never done cocaine or drugs or alcohol, so I felt it was in my best interest to move on. Although, I will say that, we could have done some excellent work together had we carried on.”