Johnny’s Blog Spot

General GNP discussion

by on Feb.11, 2007, under GNP

Post any comments you have about GNP here.

51 comments for this entry:
  1. JohnnyPress

    Mass Art Student Doug Stevens & Gary Rutstein, Tom Dempsey and Joe Botti combined their musical and artistic talents in 1970 along with Salem State College students Artie Johnson, Tony Bartolini and legendary guitar player John Press to form one of Boston Massachusetts most original and popular bands of the early 70s. Compared to various artists of their day, GNP’s brand of music, humor and taste was unique in it’s style and sound. Fame and fortune became the goal and the achievement was within arm’s reach. While performing an exclusive gig at the legendary Unicorn Coffee House in Boston, GNP fine tuned their act which eventually caught the attention of Metromedia Records. Soon the group would sign a record contract with the legendary 60’s “girl group” producer George “Shadow” Morton (Leader Of The Pack) . The result was the album P-Flaps And Low Blows..a mix of Vaudeville, rock and comedy. Although their album didn’t jump off the charts, GNP is fondly remembered for being the opening act for Frank Zappa, Spirit, Sha Na Na, Tommy James among others. Where are the members of GNP now? Stay tuned to find out! This MySpace site is dedicated to the members of GNP, their families, friends and fans. Copies of the P-Flaps album are available to qualified inquirers for 3 bucks. That’s all you get.

  2. JohnnyPress

    Songs never put on record, that were live staples for us were: I’m Human Too; GNP Boogie; I Want To Buy Some Donuts; The Thumb Song; Give Your Man Something To Talk About; I’m a Blind Man; I See Your Panties In The Dryer Window;……I’m sure there are many that I forgot, since we all were very prolific writers at the time. These were great times. Charlie Loo’s house at 700 Huntington Ave was a legendary party zone..non-stop 24/7. In answer to what drugs were on….oh we never did any….or ask ask Gary, maybe he’s got a better answer. I’d like to hook up again with the Graham Brothers, Artie Johnson, Charlie Loo and many others that were around back then. Maybe we could do that in here..Thanks …Johnny Press

  3. JohnnyPress

    Gary Rutstein replies; we’re off to a good start! Right John….we never did drugs…at least not the ones from the drug store

  4. JohnnyPress

    I now remember palying a lot of gigs as showcases for record companies in 1971. I believe one was with Muddy Waters, because I sat there and watched his show. The only reason I would have been to New York would be to play. The Gig with John Lee Hooker was at the Gaslight au go go. It was a combination of the Cafe Au go go and the Gaslight. It had become one club with both names. I remember John McGlaughlin telling me he liked my guitar playing, and being real friendly to me and the group for 3 days straight. I then met him again in Manny’s 2 weeks later and he didn’t remember me at all. Ah fame is fleeting huh. Remember you guys left me stranded in Laguardia Airport on Thanksgiving…what a horror show..somebody write a book please.

  5. JohnnyPress

    We didn’t plat at the Tavern on the Green..and it was a top secret double conspiracy as to why we didn’t. After we recorded the Album, management kept us apart for over a month. We hadn’t played together at all. We asked Mgtmt to get us a rehersal space and they wouldn’t(thanks big Bill). So they planned to have us play at The Tavern on the Green in front of a lot of media moguls(I remember singer Julius La Rosa was there). Donny and Skeeter were supposed to pick me up. In the meantime, I had been in touch with Doug and I think Joe, and we concocted a plan where I would be left behind, so we couldn’t play the show. Sure enough everybody made it to New York and I was stuck in Southbridge MA. Metromedia started calling me and set up a way for me to catch a plane and fly in. They then limoed me from the airport to the Tavern..but guess what. It was too late to do the show. Everybody was ticked off but us.We had accomplished exactly what we wanted to. No practice..no show. It was the only way to stick up for ourselves and get it through Mgmt and the record company’s thick head. So there is the true story behind the Tavern on the Green fiasco. Screw with us and you get it back double. Any other behind the scenes tales you interested in. Let me know, I’m willing to spill it all now…..Johnny Press

    Jan 13 2007 7:14P

  6. JohnnyPress

    Gry Rutstein writes: left at the airport? sorry..I had to call my father that day. There was a blizzard in the forcast and Mngmt and Metromedia left us stranded in Long Island with no money, no motel. My dad drove to Logan, bought the ticket

  7. JohnnyPress

    I was living on survival kits, the ladies working at Eastern liked me and fed me. I fell asleep and Tony drew all over my face(which I didn’t notice for another hour after waking up). I was screamed at by Management for being stranded(like it was my fault). A day after everyone else was safe at home, I got picked up by some girl who was our managers friend. She bitched at me all the way back to Massachusetts for being stranded(Our Van died,I had no money and no way to get a hold of my parents..yeah I guess its all my fault). When I got back to Massachusetts, management got all over my case again(happy Thanksgiving guys). You wonder why we couldn’t keep it going, well the people that were supposed to be on our side, treated us like pieces of meat(you mean musicians are human too). Thats what you get for 10 dollars a week.

  8. JohnnyPress

    Gary Rutstein Writes: FROM BOSTON NOVEMBER WEATHER HISTORY:
    >>>>>Nov 25 1971, Thanksgiving day storm, 10-20 inches of snow inland,
    coastal flooding and damage,1971<<<<<<<<<<<< The van, that was probably worth less than a set of guitar strings (used)...died in NY somewhere. It never would have made it through the storm anyway

  9. JohnnyPress

    Artie Johnson Writes: I remember the van that we “borrowed” (who’s van was that??) broke down and we just left where it died. Grabbed our guitar cases and bags and somehow got to the airport (seven in a taxi ?). Slept there overnight, eating boxed lunches from Eastern Airlines… And the call to home… “Hey Dad, I know it’s Thanksgiving and all… and a blizzard.. but could you swing by Logan Airport and get me a one-way ticket back to Boston

  10. JohnnyPress

    Gary Rutstein writes :The van belonged to someone who thought they were our manager at the time. george (oooeeew wow!) had a blue van that ran on 2 cylinders.
    More album sightings:
    ARTIST: Gnp-Gross National Productions
    TITLE: P-Flaps And Low Blows
    MEDIA: LP
    LABEL: Metromedia
    RELEASE COUNTRY: US
    CONDITION (INNER / OUTER): / SEALED
    OTHER INFORMATION: Still Sealed!
    RELEASE REFERENCE NUMBER: KMD-1053
    PRICE GBP: (Choose Currency) 15.32
    SHIPPING: Click here for our shipping rates.
    ITEM LISTED ON: 25/12/06
    ITEM AVAILABILITY: We have 1 of these currently in stock.
    http://www.netsoundsmusic.com/nsudsii/1/275628484/1163/2/1/metromedia/5/1.html

  11. JohnnyPress

    By the way. My brother and my daughter put together a beautiful package in the CD format of P Flaps and Low Blows. There is a pic of it on johnnypress.com. I guess eventually you should be able to purchase it..we’ll see. By the way ..the original title of the album was “Eat the root and Sloove the Groove”..but Jack Weiderman thought that would be out of the question. the next title we came up with was Piss Flaps and Low Blows” well to make everything nice Metromedia decided to call it P Flaps and take a pic of us near a plane. P Flaps= Plane I guess. While we were arguing this stuff with the record company, all our equipment was getting ripped off down town Manhattan. Great huh! We should have just stuck with our original theme that we used in our live promotions ” Another family for all out Nuclear War”. They probably wouldn’t have liked that either.

  12. JohnnyPress

    While we were recording the album, we were traveling from Ultrasonic studios in Hemstead NY to Oyster Bay where we were staying at a hotel. We travelled in a rented Van. I fell asleep in the back of the van on a trip back one evening. I woke up and there were police flashing lights everywhere. I was confused and was wondering what happened, so i eeked out the back door. An officer stopped me and yelled over to hi sfellow officer’s” Hey he’s alive”. They had thought I was dead and the band was transporting me somewhere. The other members were all lined up against the van. The officer asked me for my license. I had a brand new Massachusetts license with my pic on it(the 1st they ever came out with}. In those days if you took out the picture from the plastic, it would distort and eventually be unrecognizable. I told the officer this. You can imagine how pissed off he got with me(he obviously didn’t believe me, as I refused to take it out. Eventually they decided to let us go..just another typical GNP night

  13. JohnnyPress

    I was in Boston with my future wife Sharon when we stopped over George Paige’s apartment. We were trying to be friends again (bad idea) as he was going to manage Boston act Wily Crawford and I had an album coming out all bad blood was being put aside at the time. We were in his apartment when 3 members of Aerosmith walked in. Steve Tyler, Joe Perry and the drummer. I had heard about them ( because my ex roadie Billy Pimental was working for them. We were all sitting around when Fourth I’ve had came on the radio( I was glad because I had decent guitar parts on that one). Joe Perry was making comments like’ sounds like jimmy Page”..it didn’t but that was the comment. He turns to me and looks me in the eye and says ” whats it like to hear yourself on the radio”…I look back and laugh about that as he has become one of the biggest Rock Stars in the world and is probably sick of hearing himself on the radio.

  14. JohnnyPress

    The story of She’s the second part of me…George Paige had a friend who was a house producer for a record company( I can’t remember which one, I’m thinking RCA}. I had met Barry in New York. He was this big larger than life, outgoing individual who like country rock. When I got back to Boston I immediately picked up my guitar and wrote the music for She’s the second part of me..it took about 5 minutes(really}..I ran over to Joe( who at the time was the lyricist I collaborated with) and he came up with lyrics almost as quickly. When Sidel came to Boston we played it for him and he loved it. While we were at Ultrasonic studios trying to record it, I could not get the singing down( I was nervous and not used to hearing my own voice). Doug took to me to a liquor store about a mile away and I bought a bottle of Screwdriver( Vodka nd orange juice). By the time we arrived back at the studio, I had already drank the whole bottle.So when you hear the song always remember this…John was totally sloshed while singing it.

  15. JohnnyPress

    Gary Rutstein Writes: 2nd Part Of Me will never be the same when I listen again..I forgot about that story.

  16. JohnnyPress

    Artie Johnson Writes:I remember a few of us bumped into Aerosmith outside of Wurlitzer’s Music on Newberry Street, right after the album was released. Aerosmith was still recording their album and Steve Tyler asked me, ” What’s it like to have an album out?” and telling him about the fact that most of our equipment had been stolen.” I saw him a year later, I was on my lunchbreak (working as a carpenter at the Sheraton Boston)… he was walking near the Pru… full rockstar outfit with an absolutely beautful youg lady. Said a brief hello, what’s up ….. I remember giving a three of them a ride back to Boston from Ashland (1974?) in my Mustang with Biily P…. I pulled into my Mom’s house, she says “Who’s that ?” – I said, ” it a band from Boston, Aerosmith” – I lent Tom Hamilton my bass amp when they played at the Academy of Music in NYC. Saw Tom about 3 years ago in Framingham and he still remembered.

  17. JohnnyPress

    When we were working the show out for 2 months at the Unicorn, it was a very interesting part of our lives. I practically lived there, I was there every single day and night.I lived on pizza from the pizza place next door. Next door to the pizza place was Berkeley Scool of Music. Everyday some hotshot guitarist would come in and try to blow me off the stage. I don’t read notes( I have read chord charts, but I’m ignorant next to these guys). I humbly must say that not only did they walk out with their head hanging low, but I assisted with the total destruction of their ego’s. One Chicago guitarist even told me..” yeah your better than me, but I’m a good reader and I’ll make a lot more money than you”..he probably was right. I took that to heart and promptly stole his girlfriend from him. I was totally caught unaware one day when a young girl bassplayer from the school walked in and wanted to Jam. I said sure and figured,well she’s a bass player, no competition here..right. Wrong..I couldn’t keep up with her..she totally outclassed me and every other musician that had ever walked through those doors to jam. I never got her name..I was too embarassed to ask. I hope she cleaned up in the business..she was great. It got to be quite a ritual..so much so that Joe Botti started hanging out so we’d have a drummer to jam with everyday. My 2 month war with Berkeley guitarist. I killed them..but they still probably ended up in better shape than I did.

  18. JohnnyPress

    Gary Rutstein replies: I have to add..that damn pizza joint is still there..Little Steve’s Pizza.
    I remember a few of those jams..one that comes to mind is when the group Spirit came strolling in during one of performances. Randy California and John Press on stage together..I’d sell the house to own a tape of that!

  19. JohnnyPress

    Spirit had just played with us at Salem State College along with Badfinger and Jonathan Edwards. They said they wanted to come to the Unicorn and jam. sure enough they came down. Randy California was in my dressing room playing my old white Strat. I told him how much I enjoyed the music Spirit plays. He stopped playing and looked me straight in the eyes and said ” That music represents me about as much as Nixon”..I guess he didn’t like his band..doesn’t matter..I did

  20. JohnnyPress

    We were all sitting around after a gig at the Unicorn with George Papadopolous the owner. All of a sudden this tall black man with a full length mink coat walks in and starts to talk to George. Joe Botti, started making wise act jokes about the guy(which he did to everybody alive not just this guy). I had to stop him. It was Chuck Berry. Joe had no idea who he was. I said to him “you know all those early Beatle and Rolling Stone albums you love so much”, he said “yeah so”. I said ” well Joe he wrote most of that stuff, like Oh Carol & Roll over Beethoven,” Joe got a good look at Rock & Roll cool for the 1st time. Chuck Berry had it in spades. He was dressed to the tee right down to his polished shoes(something we never even thought about)and he couldn’t been nicer saying Hi and shaking hands with everyone that wanted to. Playing at the Unicorn put us in touch with a lot of stars back then. Boz Scaggs showed up a couple of times and told me he purposely would look us up because he liked my guitar playing ( of course I had no idea how take a compliment at the time). Jeff Skunk Baxter and Danny Klein hung with us from time to time also. Great days…I have a couple more Unicorn stories which I will put on during the week..Johnny Press

  21. JohnnyPress

    I was a sophmore at Salem State College, when Tony told me his 2 buddies, Artie Johnson and Jack Butterfield were coming to the school. I helped them carry their clothes to their dorm and became friends right away. I had found 2 more musicians to talk to about music. We used to jam together and occasionally put a show on at the Student center with our old friend Ron Gitner.The next year they started talking about how they were going to be in the next big thing. Artie(like myself) had a radio show at the school’s station. One night he brought Doug, Joe, Gary, Tom and the whole gang down to the radio station where they played their basement tapes. I thought they were funny, but not very good musically. I promptly put them out of my mind.One day Jack and Artie invited me to go to 700 Huntington to hang out. Tony had already been asking me to come over, so I agreed, it sounded like fun. Here was this 4 story brick house in Boston where everybody in the band lived,partied and played music 24/7. It was like my dreams had come true. they invited me to jam with them( which I did). Little did I know that I was getting an audition. I remember Gary telling me my hair was too short. Well I had a fun time and went back to school, never expecting to hear from them again. 2 weeks later Jack came up to me and asked if I wanted to be the guitar player in the band. I thought he was the guitar player, but he told me it would be better with me involved. Well I started making my almost nightly jaunts to 700 to learn and rehearse. My car was getting ticketed every single night, so I sold it and eventually spent almost all my time in Boston. My grades were suffering so I quit school. I was a believer. They had me convinced. That was the start of the most insane(and most fun)part of my life….Johnny Press

  22. JohnnyPress

    None of this would have been possible without CHARLIE LEW. He was absolutely our benefactor. He gave us a home base, equipment when we needed it. He was a great guy and I wish I could tell him how much I appreciated him…Charlie Lew the real man behind GNP….Johnny Press

  23. JohnnyPress

    Artie Johnson Writes:
    Our manager, Bill (who knew EVERYBODY) brought Boz Skaggs to see us at “The Peanut Gallery” near Fenway. I think we had a beef with the club owner or something, in protest, we did a set in our underwear (except John …comment John? hahaha). Boz came in and said, “I hear y’all play in yer underwear..” We told him he missed it, that it was just a one-night thing. He was cool with that.

    I agree, I am greatful that Charlie Lew provided us with that great place to live. Many thanks Charlie!

    Jamming with Spirt after the Salem State concert was the best. Ed Cassidy, the drummer said I played a mean bass or some nice comment. I was just glad to be there! Wow.. He was the step-dad of the guitarist, Randy California. With his shaved head, we all thought he was so old.. he was probably around 40.

  24. JohnnyPress

    The reason I didn’t play in my underwear was because I wasn’t wearing any!!!. If I took my pants off I would had a new nickname “Johnny Press the longest man in Show business”

  25. JohnnyPress

    Artie Johnson Writes: I thought that was the reason… I wanted you to comfirm it !

    Did Boz play at the St. Francis show in S.F. ??

    Saw the new photos on your website. Great stuff. I never saw the Zappa pics!

  26. JohnnyPress

    Yes Boz played that night with Tim Davis

  27. JohnnyPress

    he sang the song Stepping Stone from the 1st Steve Miller Band album

  28. JohnnyPress

    Gary Rutstein writes:
    Get your levels Larry!
    I also want to jump in and give Charlie Lew kudos for his generosity…long overdue. Do we know who left the hatchet in his bedroom door when we moved out? Wasn’t me Charlie.
    I think back to the behind the scenes crew who worked tirelessly, hours before the shows and long after….these were the folks that made sure the shows were pulled off perfectly. If I leave anyone out, or spell someone’s name wrong it’s because 35 years have got in the way.
    Bill Pimental, Jack Butterfield, Jeff Daniels, Bob and Paul Graham.
    Bill, Jeff and Jack made sure every instrument was tuned and ready to go..every amp was set to our specs…every microphone placed in the exact spot and all levels ready to go. Bob and Paul tried their best to make us look great under lights. They all did the grunt work. all the packing and unpacking. I will add, there was absolutely no monetary gain for their labors. They were as much part of the show as the rest of us.
    Other famous and/or infamous “mentions”….
    John Riley (spoke..look who’s smiling now!)
    Brian Riley (I stuck my head out the car window)
    Susan Haddad
    Virginia Graham
    Cheryl Canterberry
    Val Dangora (the bee costume and Wooly the Caterpillar)
    Dave (musician) Van Orden
    Lola
    Sunshine
    Joan & Ellen (that’s how I knew them)
    Rudy
    Dave Phoenix
    Teddy Dean
    LJ
    Dave drummer
    Shelly Finkle (the ride in the Cadilac was outta sight)
    Shadow Morten
    Jeff Krake
    Bill Stall
    Barry Sidel
    Tom Wermen
    Dick Salter
    George Page
    Bill Eberline
    Beth McNally
    Sue Clark
    Steve the homeless guy outside the Unicorn
    George Popadopolous (sp???)
    And who was it who ate his shit and gave his husband 40 winks?
    Keep those cards and letters comin’!

  29. JohnnyPress

    Joan & Ellen..wow..they were great looking girls….by the way the trick question would be Charlie Benson(oops was I not supposed to say that). Here’s something interesting..we lived next door to Brighams hospitals nurses dorm….hmmm…do you think it inspired Spring has Sprang. Summer was miserable (no escaping the heat in the city)4 days backstage with the WHO. The Bill & George feud that split everything up. George living in my apartment for over a year rent free. The great New Years Eve party..(where I possibly broke every record for abuse). Writer Charles Pierce and myself journey through the bullshit multi million dollar party at the St Francis Hotel in San Francisco. So many women I cannot name them all(you should put Mary on there..what the hell she lived with us). Gitmer, McMannus,Lori, Dianne Gross, Barbara Rutka and Roseanne, Elaine from Everett and the rest of the Salem State gang. The incredible 2 man band, Zotos brothers, Tim Hardin(if people only knew). Joel Zoss,Billy Colwell, I really liked Teddy Deane he was great, The Holy Modal Rounders (who once saved all our butts in New York) with Jeff “Skunk” Baxter. Who threw the full bottle of beer at Frank Zappa, oooo Lola, The home made movies that I hope never see the light of day. Tom walking around shirtless everywhere with his trumpet tucked under his arm picking up women. A guy I grew up with(who swears he will one day shoot me to death)shows up at 700 right after a party. The bottle cap crab snapping scene( don’t ask)…wanna write a book.. I’m just getting started…Johnny Press
    gsr music (g. rutstein)

  30. JohnnyPress

    Oh yeah how can you forget JOE UPHAM..resident genius soundman, recording wizard, John Linde,Delores, Mary Donavan. Lori Tillman, Billy Perrault, Joe Zena (Salem Staters). The Bill Eberline/Grand Funk Railroad feud. Mitch Ryder at the Performance center, with Bob Segar,Brownsville Station & MC5. John Linde and Ultrasonic Studios. David Pontbriand and LJ. Tom Wermans multi visits. The 18th precinct station(that description was no good theres 18,000 of them in this area, and me being mistaken as a Narc by who I believe to have been the real Serpico.). Rod Stewart & Keith Moon having it out with Roger Daltrey. Me, using my position backstage at the Who concert to get girls(what a sleazebag). Donny catching Pete Townsends guitar. Yes theres a lot more to come..Johnny Press

  31. JohnnyPress

    Gary Rutstein writes:

    I can’t believe I forgot Joe Upham..shaved his head for the cause…guy was a Mass Art whiz with sounds. If you’re out there reading this Joe..get in touch. And the Graham Crackers…get in touch.

  32. JohnnyPress

    Artie Johnson writes:

    “Spring has Sprang” … actually Matt Maverick got inspired looking out the window of the apartment that me and Tony shared… 3rd floor, 22 Park Street Salem… 2 bedrooms = $75.00 a month.
    And at 700, I do recall entering the next-door nurses dorm (who could believe that! ) via the second floor window on a few occasions.
    Can’t recall the lovely nurse that treated me though…mmm.. it’ll come to me.

  33. JohnnyPress

    Gary Rutstein writes:

    “guys on bikes and women in pink shifts
    checkin’ the temperature
    and passin’ out free gifts”
    Always loved that tune! head of our time

  34. JohnnyPress

    Gary Rutstein writes:

    I would be hard pressed to pinpoint the actual birth of what came to be Gross National Productions. (Stop me if you heard this one) We begin with a group of art students.
    A group of Mass College of Art students were participating and /or majoring in SIM. Studio for Iterrelated Media. Now, just what is Interrelated Media? I’ll explain the best way I know how. This class allowed gifted students to apply themselves beyond the canvas and watercolors…to explore their horizons with various media and be able to creatively combine them. It was also a class for students who couldn’t paint for shit BUT their mommies or daddies knew someone in state government who, in turn, would allow their stupid kid to go to an easy 4 year college to finger paint and get laid. Typical artsy fartsy “oh wow” crap.
    Of course, Joe and I took advantage of this class..no real homework here except for smoking weed, drinking cheap “Lake Niagra” wine (79 cents a bottle) and playing rock music.
    Me and Joe would rarely be found in class…we would be “letting our creative juices flow” smoking weed and playing Beatle tunes everyday at the grand piano in the auditorium. Tom would eventually join in and Doug came along with his “blam theory”…..and I’ll let him give the details on that. Simply put..it was the way to the way to make millions and never have to work for the rest of our lives. Combine rock music with various forms of interrelated media..photography, film making, comedy and beatnik poetry and BLAM..millionaires!!! Keep in mind, this was several years before Saturday Night Live…where many of our bits where used one way or another. Doug decided to put this thing together and Joe hunted down various friends and musicians he played with in high school and college, namely Artie, Jack, Tony, Billy and their friends John and eventually George.
    Doug, always armed with a reel to reel tape recorder began combining and developing comedy routines set to music such as Herb Albert and others along with our unique brand of sly and cynical music and humor. It didn’t take long for this group of gifted crazy people to make it’s mark in the world of Boston Rock.
    From Wikipedia for a laugh…(sorry Harris…you were great!)
    The Studio for Interrelated Media (SIM) is an academic concentration within the Multimedia and Performing Arts Department at the Massachusetts College of Art [1].
    “The artists in The Studio for Interrelated Media (SIM) combine the study of many media by pursuing the representation of their ideas with the most appropriate media for each idea. This process often results in the extending, reshaping, and breaking of boundaries. SIM is project- and concept-centered and depends on the exchange of experience, knowledge and curiosities of a diverse community of students and faculty.”[1]

  35. JohnnyPress

    Feb 3 2007 7:41A

    Metromedia records was throwing a big party in San Francisco for GNP & Tim Davis to promote the release our our new albums. We flew out of Boston non-stop to San Francisco. When we arrived they had people to pick us up and guide us around. Who better than to have transvestite members of the infamous Cockettes greet us in San Francisco. Talk about culture shock. On top of that, less than a minute after we landed there was a mild earthquake. While we were disturbed by this, our welcoming party laughed at us saying that it was nothing, they get them all the time. They put us up in a hotel, where we would write everything off to the rooms and they would pay for it. Big mistake on their part. We ended up eating Filet Mignon every night and giving 300 dollar tips to the waiters( its good to be King).Tony rented a van and made sure he put insurance on it(with good reason).He decided to play Bullit by flying over the hills of San Fransisco at full speed every day. He also liked to bang into parked cars in parking lots. Just Tony being Tony. We were shown around the city and taken to typical Hippie parties( with bathtubs full of silosybin and naked men dancing around stoned out of their gourd).We were supposed to play in a place called the House of Good. We found out that this was once the home of Jim Jone’s Church before they left the country. It was also next door to a militant Muslim church. I mean militant, because if you played music during one of their services, they would come over and kick your ass.The problem was we didn’t know when they held their services and this is the place we were gonna rehearse for the show. Gary found a huge church organ and couldn’t resist warming it up. I was watching from the floor as he played this wonderful keyboard. I didin’t notice that behind me 3 huge(compared to me) Black Muslims had walked up behind me. They turned me around and had me yell to Gary. They immediately told me that if we didn’t cease the music we would pay for it by getting a good beating. Needless to say, the music stopped…This is part 1 of the San Francisco adventure..I’ll continue it later…Johnny Press

  36. JohnnyPress

    Feb 3 2007 8:56A

    We were living on Van Nuys Street in San Francisco, right next to the worlds smallest street. Of course Tony had to test drive this at full speed. I kept noticing a sticker on many of the buildings in the area where we would rehearse. It was a picture of the Giant Robot from the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, and it had the saying Klattu Barada Nikto on it. I thought this was cool so I peeled one off and stuck it on the back of my 55 Les Paul where it remained for at least 10 yrs before peeling off. One of the crew at the rehearsal place told us John Forgarty was putting them on the walls around town. I don’t know if this is true, but thats what they told us. They brought me a Marshall to useat rehearsal and it was a revelation to me. This was the 1st time I had ever used one and I fell totally in love with it. Van Morrison’s band was rehearsin next door to us for his Domino’s tour. In the meantime Tony(I think) picked up a couple of hitchikers (2 Girls) and vrought them back to the hotel. I started talking to one(very pretty) and found out she was a hairdresser. She said she could give ne a good hairstyle if I’d let her cut it. I had quite a lot of hair back then and it was really getting kinda bushy. I said sure. I like it and then proceeded to shave my beard (from the album cover). Our producer showed up and freaked out on me for changing my looks ( oh well whats done is done). Getting back to the girls. They must have pissed someone off as their clothes ended up in the Hotel pool ( we belive Tony was at it again), so they left. We were at the House of good getting ready to play, when I realized 1/2 of our stuff wasn’t ready to go yet. The road crew was really taking its time and we liked to be assured there would be no messups so I was getting anxious. I approached the crew and told them to move it up a notch. They looked at me and said cool out man we’re going as fast as we can. Then I realized the difference between New Englanders and the rest of the world and why we are so successful wherever we go. We like to get things done and right now and we are not laid back at all. These West coast guys were way too laid back and didn’t pay attention to detail especially when it came to my guitar amp( I’ll detail later). The House of Good show went off pretty well, with a minimum of mistakes and we could tell that this so called cool San Francisco audience didn’t know what to make of us. I guess we were too out there for them!! There were some that really enjoyed it and loved the originality of the act. I don’t think our record company could have cared less(I’ll explain later). Part 3 is coming..stay tuned..Johnny Press.

  37. JohnnyPress

    Metromedia was throwing a party for the releases of the new GNP & Tim Davis Releases. They hired a famous publicist(whose name escapes me at the moment)to throw the party for us.We arrived at the beautiful St Francis hotel the day before the gig and were shown to our rooms. I walked into my room(which was a suite)to find 2 A&R people from the record company snorting coke on a table in my room. Now who let them in my room(I don’t know) and told them they could do that in front of me (and never offer me any)is beyond me. I really didn’t want any, but the balls these 2 had (a Man & a Woman)was amazing to me. They then when on to talk to me like I was a waiter at the place. I promptly threw them out of my room, threatening them physically. I went down to the main hall where the concert was supposed to be held and checked out our equipment(making sure there was at least the 2 Marshalls I had asked for there).Of course, the road crew was its usual laid back self, which put me on edge even more. We all got called to get together for a meeting with the press. I thought great, finally a little recognition would do some good for our egos and confidence. We get hauled off to this publicist room where there were about 20 reporters. The 1st question we were asked was..yeah so who are you guys…then it dawned on me, they had no idea why they were there other than to have a good time at this guys party. They didn’t even know who was playing. I met Boston reporter Charles Pierce there ( he knew what he was there for) and we hit it off imediately(he gave me a great review in the Boston papers). We grabbed aome liquor from the publicist bar and hung out in one of the guys rooms. We decided to sneak back and get some more liquor. We walked into the publicist room, but no one seemed to be around. I heard some noise behind a door. I walked over and peeked in. There was an orgy going on of Roman Proportions. There must have been a half dozen people in there getting it on. I walked over to the bar and confiscated another couple of bottles of Jack Daniels and split. The intrepid Boston reporter and myself got pretty lit and proceeded to make fun of the odd people showing up to the concert.. I went back to my room to crash, being dissapointed and ticked off as to what was going on. I managed to get some rest ubntil finally someone(probably one of the Graham Brothers) came and told me it was time to hit the stage. Of course the show was going well until my Marshall stopped working. I was yelling at the San Francisco road crew that it was dead(in the middle of my solo in the GNP Boogie). Finally someone hooked up a bad Twin Reverb(real clean) instead of the spare Marshall head. I yelled at the guy to hook the other Marshall up, but he looked at me like I was nuts. I tried to play, but was so frustrated, I threw my guitar down and walked off the stage. Luckily it was the last song. I wanted to kill somebody. I don’t know what happened to everybody else after that as I went to my room to sulk all by myself. I didn’t want to talk to anyone…..more to come…Johnny Press

  38. JohnnyPress

    Feb 4 2007 12:04P

    Well the flight back from San Francisco was a nightmare. We stopped in Chicago. This was the 1st time they ever searched for weapons. We all had to go through the metal detector(this was 1972)and headed to the next flight home. The weather was bad and the flight was horrendous. Gary and I were trying to play cards and they were bouncing off the table. I felt like a milk shake when I had landed.I was glad we were back on our territory and I knew we would smoke em when we played at the Ipswitch Castle. This was the second part of the release hype. We were supposed to play at the magnificent Ipswith Castle in Ipswitch MA. I had gone home to hang with some old friends and to secretly find out if they were game to do a band in case GNP folded.It wasn’t that we wanted it to fold, it just seemed like we couldn’t even get to the same place together. It was almost like Management wanted us to fold. Some girl picked me up at a friends house and took me home to Framingham that night. In the morning she drove me to Joes house. Some how we managed to find a place to practice, and it was good. Someone had given me an old Traynor guitar head and it worked great. I loved it, I knew I would be good this show.The Castle was packed with celebrities from the East Coast. Peter Wolf was there and celebrity groupie Cherry Vanilla also. Some A&R guy from Metromedia came up to me, and it looked like he was gonna hug me, so I let him. He instead planted a big kiss on me, as I backed away in semi shock, he informed me he had come out of the closet and was proudly Gay. Well, thats the last I saw of him. When we finally got to play, I was right, we cooked. It was a good show and was about time. something to be proud of. Little did I know it would be the last show of this version of GNP and many people who became my friends and helped continuously during this period, I would never see again…..Johnny Press

  39. JohnnyPress

    The 1st album finally came out. We bitched and moaned about it some, but I was happy we finally had a product. Just as our album had come out, my cousin Taz Digregorio of the Charlie Daniels Band had his 1st album released. I met him in Boston and he came back to Southbridge to visit family and friends. We talked a lot about the possibility of starting a band together. It wasn’t in the cards. They kept playing and working themselves into a 35 yr career and we just stopped cold.Our manager at the time was Bill Eberline and we had just parted company with him. He called me up and said he wanted to put together a band withLarry West(Leslie’s brother), Bob Segar and his keyboard and drummer with me. I said lets meet. Obviously this never happened because I’d be rich right now. It was unofficial that we were through, yet no one would say it. I started jamming around and met Billy Squire. He used to come out to David Pontbriands chicken coop to jam with us. He was a fun guy and I got to know him fairly well for about 2 yrs.I had Started the band Smokin’ Joe and was gigging constantly. We would also do original material.If we played an original song in a top 40 club we would lie and say it was by the Rasberries or whoever. My bassplayer was a free spirit and all of a sudden he was gone. I called Artie Johnson and to my surprise he said yes. There are as many Smokin Joe tales as there are of GNP, but I’m not gonna get into that today. We felt we had enough tunes and took a trip down to Long Island to play them for John Linde at Ultrasonic studios. I walked in and the 1st person I see is Shadow Morton, who was our original producer. He shook my hand and was all smiles as he pulled me over to the studio couch. He smiles at me and tells me he’s gonna sue GNp for everything they are worth. I started laughing out loud, I couldn’t stop. He looked at me funny and said what are you laughing about. I said go ahead sue me, sue me all you want. We’re broke. It’ll be like getting blood out of a stone. He realized it and started laughing himself. Nope never did get sued by him. Smokin Joe had cut 3 songs at Angus recording studios in Fayville. We were proud of these 3 songs and they really kicked ass. They were getting some airplay on WBCN and I had contacted old friend Tom Werman and sent him the tapes. Then I got the call from Artie…John.. GNP is getting back together…..Tom Werman says to me..John I was considering signing you for the new stuff, but GNP is the thing you should do….My head was gonna split…what was I gonna tell David, Norman and LJ from Smokin Joe, we had been through a lot together.This was nuts, but I knew I was gonna do it…Johnny Press
    shane

  40. JohnnyPress

    Gary Rutstein writes:

    By 1976, GNP was history. There would be other ventures I was involved in with GNP members as the years went on. Rockfights was a collection of music and comedy bits performed at Mass Art by the Open Door Theatre Company and was the brainchild of Tom (Howie Ritz) and Doug. Luckily there exists several recordings of the music from this show. Doug, with help from Tom went on to form the Handsome Brothers, a company devoted to creative commercial music.

    Move forward several years…Joe hosted a GNP reunion in 1984. It was the first time the band was back together for a little fun and music in Joe’s backyard in Hopkington Mass. With absolutely no rehearsal, we pulled off a “nearly” perfect set. There has never been another reunion. Thanks to myspace, most band members have once again began communicating and trading “war stories”..as well as lost tapes that haven’t surfaced in decades. Stay tuned…we’ll be putting them up for all to hear.

  41. JohnnyPress

    Artie had been playing with me in Smokin joe and had told me about the possible reunion. I insisted on having David Pontbriand playing the drums and he agreed with me. I LOVE Joe Botti..I personally think he is a genius. His mind never stops, he’s kind of like Jonathan Winters meets Robin Williams..but so much sicker. Joe took all the craziness the band promoted itself as being and became the hype. He lived it to the hilt. Its just too much for a person to do. He embodied GNP to the ultimate extreme. The only thing about Joe that really bothered me was his drumming, While very creative, it just wasn’t strong enough for what I envisioned for our music. David and I travelled 4 times a week to Jamaica Plains (in all kinds of insane weather} to rehearse. At 1st we used 2 drummers, then Joe decided he could relinquish the job and concentrate on the other aspects of the show. I have to say, the new band which included everyone except Tom(who was doing his own thing) was top notch. We had a great show and we kicked ass. I was proud of what we were doing and we were generating interest again. Tom Werman came down to the dregs in Jamaica Plain to watch us rehearse. We Played Mass Art twice, some other school(where people threw coins at us because we were doing original material) and Babson College. Babson turned out to be the highlight..we were on..really on and the crowed loved us. Unfortunately Joe was kicked out of the band after that and I don’t even remember why. We had a show to do at Mass Art, so I recruited LJ from Smokin Joe to sing a few of Joes tunes and a new song Nothin Special Special. After the last show. I got a call to come down to Jamaica Plains for a meeting. Dave and I drove there (72 miles 1 way). We were all sitting around the kitchen. Something was up I could feel it. Gary was ignoring me and very silent. Tony was pacing up and down. What was going on. Doug came through the door and announced the band was over with. I sat there completely in shock. I said look we’ll do whatever you want to keep it going, hell if means I have to leave you have to keep it going. He said no. He didn’t realize what I had given up in order to do this again. He didn’t realize that they had re awoken a dream in me and then squashed it. I felt dead. About a week later I called Artie and we decided to start yet another band this one had all the guys from Smokin Joe except Norman and we added a keyboard player in Ritchie Ramuno. We carried on for a couple of years, but it didn’t have that GNP magic. It would take me years to feel that kind of magic again. Even then it wasn’t really the same. I hadn’t heard from the guys in years. I was going to play in the town of Ashland last December when I noticed in the audience was Jack Butterfield and Gary Rutstein. It was great to see them again. Gary and I have been in touch a lot lately. I’ve remade contact with Tony and Doug(Red Peters now). I’m glad no hard feelings are being carried over and we’re all pretty excited with this website. We have been sending old pics and music from the GNP days to each other and its cool how they are responding. I’d love to do it again, but its really up to the guy with the most focus and our group leader Doug(Matt Maverick, Red Peters) Stevens. He is the horse that drove the cart…I hope you all enjoyed and got some insight as to my side of things(there are 6 other sides you know)..If I think of some other tales, I’ll write them down..right here..Johnny Press

  42. JohnnyPress

    Gary Rutstein writes
    There were several articles written about the band Gross National Productions yet no one could pin down their unique brand of humor and music. It would be far fetched to simply call it comedy or funny. Even the record company Metromedia Records had a hard time putting a label on it as evidenced by the incredibly lame album cover…an album cover rejected by all members of the band. The idea was to have the shorter band members wear rented formal suits that were too big and the taller members would wear suits too small. Pathetic. The front of the cover showed us standing in front of an old DC something or other plane and the flip side showed us walking off a plane’s stairway in our street clothes. Veeery funny. When the band members voiced their rejections, the record company threatened to halt the entire album and promotions. Please…don’t romance me.
    Next came the editing of the songs in the studio. Almost every tune was chopped in some fashion for time’s sake. If my memory serves me correctly, the entire album is under 30 minutes. Some of GNP’s best tunes never made it. Stay tuned.There are several raw “live” versions of these tunes and I’ll be uploading them in the near future.
    My advice for upcoming rock stars and entertainers today….say what you wish and do what you want to.

  43. JohnnyPress

    Gary Rutstein writes

    maybe if you took the time to stop and think….you’d never ask…why I talk the way I do…and if you knew..you’d be on the right track baby!!
    Words by Joe Botti/John Press.

  44. JohnnyPress

    All these comments up to this point have been taken from Gary Rutsteins webpage at Myspace.com/grossnationalproductions. I felt they were important to the history of the band. They give a couple of perspectives on what really happened to us. There are rumours that a book(or books }are going to be written about our experiences at 700 Huntington Ave, so here is a kind of preview..Johnny Press

  45. marvin

    Time tables may be off a bit with these stories..but most will catch on to te craziness that was GNP. I want to thank John for the priceless contributions…fun putting these memories back to together…it’s quite a jigsaw puzzle. Looking forward to seeing John’s webpage grow.

  46. marvin the rat

    Another thought…just how quick our lives can change. November 1970..one year out of high school..college student..not much direction. November 1971…recording with a major record label Metromedia Records with the legendary Shadow (leader of the Pack) Morton..alongside Johnny Press and the others. By the Spring 1972, we’d traveled coast to coast and perofrmed with several top name bands of the day, inluding Zappa, Sha Na Na, Spirit and Muddy Waters. Great memories. Luckily there are several raw live tapes that have survived the decades. Seems the music stood up to the test of time…great to hear it again.
    http://www.myspace.com/grossnationalproductions

  47. JohnnyPress

    Marvin the Rat is Gary Rutstein, who to this day I consider a fine musician on both keys and guitar. Without him GNP would have been a comedy group. A fine songwriter and talent. His music is not typical and you can hear a lot of Beatles in it. Gary cut a solo album will ya..I’d buy it…Johnny Press

  48. marvin the rat

    Thanks for the plug John and still looking forward on a collaboration with GNP members to write and record one more BIG one….obviously the talent is still there and we’re not in the nursing home yet.

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