Rhett Forrester Biography

Rhett Forrester Biography

The stairs, leading from street level and ascending to Greene Street Recording Studios, resemble hose of a typical medieval dungeon. Once the blackened door cioses, behinxi the unsuspecting guest a strange technological world unfolds. The studio appears to be a spaceage cave, burrowed deep beneath the frantic bustle of New York City's, Sob district. Producer, Steve Loeb, directs me iato the production room. "This is it, this is where Rhett did all of his recording with RIOT."

>Rhett Forrester was the tall, lean blonde whose soulfiil voice and charismatic, piratelike, personality helped launch Brooklyn's RIOT into near superstar status in the early eighties. With Forrester as their vocalist and fiontman, RIOT played alongside such stadium acts as Rainbow, Scorpions, Kiss, Rush and Aerosrriith. h Japant Bum nnagazine voteid Forrester the number one vocalist of the year. "He combined the cornmanding presence of Robert Plant with the soulful vocals of Paul Rodgers," quoted Robert Schoen, Forrester's childhood friend.

The son of a Ballroom dance instructor, Forrester had the looks, the cocky nature and the sweeping locks of golden hair, perfect for rock stardom. With his own inherent grace he quickly graduated from his mother's dance studio to a star tennis player on his high school tennis team.

His last two years in high school were spent at Sanford Navel Acadamy in Sanford, Florida. It was shortly there after that the winds of change began to blow. "I had no idea that Rhett had been studying vocal training in school," claimed his mother, La Fortune Forresttr. "After he graduated, we spent some time together at a resort in South Carolina. I didn't know this at the tirne but at night, he would sneak out to sing with one of the local bands. After we got back to Atlanta, the band kept calling him until he couldn't take it anymore. That's when he said 'Mama, I'an going. I hope you're happy for me 'cause 1'111 going.' I screamed and cried all the way to the bus station."

With Rhett as the only child, La Fortune became the anchor stay for her wandering boy. Rernaining in Atlantal she would live vicariously through hirn as he drifted from town to town and band to band. Often he would call horne for some remote outpost to tell her of his difficulties. "Once," expressed Ms. Fortester1 "he called when he was in the middle of a snow storm complaining that the truck had broken down and that he had a terrible tooth ache.

Finally, Rhett Forrester's big break carne. "We were looking for a singer after our old singer quit," explained Steve Loeb (Producer and then manager of RIOT). We were really impressed with Rhett's tape because it was so professional. He sent it with a photo and bio, everything looked great. And I loved that voice, I mean, he had "the" voice. So, we brought him in and could instantly see the difference he made in the band. He looked great and had such amazing charisma."

"One of the things that you wonder about as a producer"^ stated Loeb} "is how the final product will come across live. One of the first gigs Rhett did with Riot was at the Spectrum in Philly. They were opening for the Scorpions. When the lights wenl down Rhett came out like this big monster onto the stage. He just stood there and commanded the audience. I'd never seen that before with this band."

Marlc Reale, Riot's guitarist remembers, "Rhett embodied everything we wanted in a singer. He was amazing. When he joined the band, the band became real. Even though we sounded a bit more commercial with Rhett, it was the first time we had steady rotation on both New York City rock stations."

Forrester also brought a professional edge and seculity to Lhe band. "He was like a big cloak," recalls Loeb, "protecting the band. The other members felt very comfortable with that. It allowed them to do their own thing."

Forrester recorded three successful albums with Riot. They included Restless Breed,

Riot Live, and Born In America~. "Rhett was the kind of singer that was very spontaneous," continued Loeb. "He was a one or two take guy. If you didn't get Rhett within the first few takes you had o give it a rest. There are singers that render or paint with their voice. Rhett on the other hand was te kind of singer you photographed for the moment. As a producer, I; didn't have to do much with him, he naturally kn w. It was instinctive. We would set up, he'd walk in and "bam" lay it down."

His instinctive nature was prevalent on stage as well. "Rhett lived for the stage," explained Loeb, reaching for a cigarette. "No matter what he did or where he was the 0 night before we knew he would never miss a gig. That was his life force. It was like he'd heen out thete for a million years. Had I not known he had a mother, I would have tilought he was bolm on the stage."

Plagued with managelial and record company woes, Riot eventually disbanded. FolTester remained in New York working on a number of side projects. They included the vocal tracks on Jack Starr's solo album, Out Of The Darkness and the New York cornpilation, Thrasher.

Then taking a year off he moved to Paris, France to record his first solo album, Gone With The Wind. With his solo career in full swing Forrester returned to the states to record Even The SCore, a cult classic, which spawned the hit Assume The Position.

Recently Fonester had begun work with the talented, Texan guitarist, Jonathan Grell in a project they called Dirty Water. "Rhett was a natural," remembered &rell. "All I had to do was start playing and he would instinctively know what to sing." After finishing a superb four song demo, Forrester returned home to visit his mother and was shot.

We'll Always Remember

Rhett Forrester Main Page
Rhett Forrester Biography
Rhett Forrester Discography
Rhett Forrester Tribute
Rhett Forrester Memorial Fund