Gas Food & Lodging

 

Historical Vignettes

2017 News Update: Bill has remixed/remastered almost two dozen tracks and now the Gas Food & Lodging band’s “On the Great Highway” album is finally available for digital download on CDBaby.

Lynn Blessing (vibes, piano, drums, organ) and Bill Plummer (contrabass, electric bass) were recording and touring with the Paul Horn Quintet and Tommy Peltier’s Jazz Corps when Art Johnson moved from San Diego to Los Angeles. He formed a quartet with Lynn, drummer Ralph Humphries, and Bill for a booking at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, California.

After this successful performance, Art, Lynn, and Bill were commissioned by drummer Bobby Morin to perform Hial Bancroft King’s symphonic composition “Future Shock” which featured a Jazz/Rock quartet within a symphony orchestral landscape. They performed premiers with the Tucson and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras.

In Fort Worth, Art, Lynn, and Bill decided to form a new trio named Rosebud, featuring original compositions of Art Johnson, and began gigging at the Sundance Saloon in Calabasas, California.

They changed the name of the band to Last Chance and recorded and filmed Art Johnson’s “Look Inside Yourself”, which won the CINDY AWARD for the best Educational film score of the year.

Gary Downey became the producer-manager for Last Chance, along with artist Marc McClure. Both bands were recording in Heider’s studio A. They had finished Bill’s tracks for Marc McClure’s Capitol album “’Ol Ladies and Babies,” and Marc began singing background vocals with Last Chance. With the Capitol project finished for release, Downey suggested they join forces, add Kevin Kelly from the Birds on drums, move Lynn to piano, vibes and organ, and form a new band keeping the name Last Chance.

They premiered the new group at the Ash Grove in Hollywood and continued their Thursday nights at the Sundance Saloon. They were still not happy with the band’s name and were trying out new ones when Art and Bill took a cosmic sabbatical to Idaho, crossed the state line and the first sign they saw was “Gas Food & Lodging”. Both agreed, they had found the new name for the band.

 

The band Gas Food & Lodging. (l to r) Bill Plummer, Marc McClure, Kevin Kelly, Lynn Blessing and Art Johnson.

 

Returning to Hollywood, they rented a production studio on Cahuenga Boulevard and named it Buffalo Gap Productions. We continued recording Art and Marc’s original compositions at Clover studios and with producer-drummer Bobby Morin at Buffalo Gap.

A group of sudden events changed the direction of Gas Food & Lodging for the next two years. Lynn Blessing started touring with Al Jarreau and became music director for Tim Weisberg, Kevin Kelly went on tour with Poco, and Bobby Morin, also Pat Boone’s musical director, contracted Art, Marc, and Bill to join The Pat Boone Show for two national tours as his backup band and a featured spot performing their show-stopping rendition of the “Daily Dumplin.”

Back in Los Angeles, several TV-motion picture opportunities appeared for film scoring including; ‘The Bionic Woman’ with Lindsay Wagner, Hoyt Axton, and Doc Sevrensen; ‘Freebie and the Bean’ a motion picture with James Caan and Alan Arkin; and theme music for a new TV pilot, ‘Arnold’ of Welcome Back Kotter fame.

Returning to the studio to complete these tasks they also recorded additional pieces of Marc and Art’s compositions with Ron Dunn Jones on drums-vocals, and the Arnold theme with Duayne Smith on piano. GF&L also recorded the Judee Sill-Gas Food & Lodging album “That’s the Spirit” at this time.

Al Warbucks became GF&L’s manager and they appeared many times at Tommy Thomas’s Club Palomino and The Stingaree in Encinitas, California.

In presentations to Warner’s and RCA records, RCA liked us very much. We proceeded into negotiations. Contracts ready, our A&R project champion was suddenly fired from the company. With this setback and other gig opportunities looming, the guys decided to disband.

Art began touring with Lena Horne, Ron Jones joined up with Don Ellis, and Bill and Marc became part of the new Spanky & Our Gang, touring with Willie Nelson and recording the album “Change” on Epic Records.

 

Click on a thumbnail image to see the full-size photo

 

Gas Food & Lodging Personnel

 

Lynn Blessing

Lynn Blessing

Vibraharp – Piano – Organ – Drums

Lynn was born in Cicero, Indiana December 4, 1938. At the age of eight he started to play drums and decided on a music career. He majored in music throughout school and played tympani in the All State orchestra. At seventeen he started playing vibes and moved to Indianapolis, Indiana. He worked there with the groups of Freddie Hubbard and Larry Ridley. In 1958 Lynn moved to Los Angeles and began study under Earl Hatch and Terry Gibbs. He formed his own group in 1960 and performed at the Insomniac in Hermosa Beach. His band also won first place in the Hollywood Bowl Jazz Festival that year.

In 1963 he began working with Paul Horn, Tommy Peltier’s Jazz Corp, Joe Loco, and the Ray Crawford group. He did extensive tours with Martin Denny, and Paul Horn with Tony Bennett. Lynn recorded his own album “Sunset Painter” on Epic. He joined the Cosmic Brotherhood recording “Journey to the East” on ABC-Impulse, and A&M Records. Lynn premiered the symphonic work “Future Shock” with Art Johnson, Bobby Morin, and Bill Plummer which resulted in his recording and performing as a member of Gas Food & Lodging. Lynn performed with Gabor Szabo at the Monterey Jazz Festival in ’68 and ’70 before touring with Al Jarreu in Europe and becoming Tim Weisburg’s musical director.

 

Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly

Drums – Vocals

Honorably discharged from the US Marine Corps as a cryptographer, Kevin continued his music career performing with Jesse-Wolf-Wings, The Rising Suns with Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder, and the Byrds before joining Marc McClure, Art Johnson, Bill Plummer, and Lynn Blessing to form what would become Gas Food & Lodging in 1972.

The band performed at the Sundance Saloon, The Ash Grove, The Stingaree, and the Club Palomino. Kevin recorded the Judee Sill and Gas Food & Lodging album “That’s the Spirit” on PLUM Records.

 

Marc McClure

Marc McClure

Guitar – Pedal Steel Guitar – Lead, Background Vocals – Arranger

Marc is a California native from Van Nuys, born Oct 17, 1950, and has lived in the Van Nuys, Encino area most of his life. He comes from a musical family his brother Dennis and sister Vicky are musicians and vocalists also.

Marc’s career started off with a bang. He landed a recording contract with Warner Brothers producer and guitar associate Ron Elliot to record “Living in the Country” with banjo and guitarist Danny Leavitt. Ron Elliot and Marc then collaborated on Elliot’s “The Candlestick Maker” produced by Gary Downey. Gary then hired Marc to join a new Capitol Records project named Joyous Noise. They toured the USA and Hawaii and recorded two albums for Capitol “Joyous Noise I & II”.  Gary then signed Marc to Capitol, producing the album “Songs for ‘Ol Ladies and Babies”. Playing string bass on tracks was Bill Plummer who was also recording with Last Chance in the same studio. Marc loved Last Chance’s songs and joined in with background vocal parts. When the recordings were completed, Gary Downey suggested to combine Art, Marc, Lynn, and Bill, move Lynn to keyboards, and add Kevin Kelly on drums. They kept the name Last Chance which was later changed to Gas Food & Lodging.

 

Art Johnson

Art Johnson

Guitars – Vocals – Mandolin – Violin –  Vocal Arranger

Art was born in San Diego, California Oct 18, 1945. He started his music career at Hoover High as the band vocalist. After graduating he continued his music studies at San Diego State. He formed his own band for college one nighters which forced him into learning guitar.

He met Barney Kessel and, under his influence, started his career as a Jazz guitarist.

He studied arranging from the Berklee College of Music and returned to Mesa Jr. college as a music major. He worked Las Vegas with CC Jones and then toured Alaska with Lee Keniston.

In January 1969, Art moved to Los Angeles and worked with Skip Battin. He recorded an album with the Advancement and began working for John Klemmer, gigging and recording two albums on Chess and Verve. He joined Willie Bobo’s band and recorded three albums with Paul Horn on Northwest and two albums with Tim Weisburg on A&M. He scored the TV series “The Psychiatrist” with Gil Melle for Universal and the film score “How Come Melodies on our Side” with Rob Reiner, he began premiering Hial Kings symphonic piece “Future Shock” with the Ft. Worth and Tucson Symphony Orchestras. In Ft. Worth Art, Bill Plummer, and Lynn Blessing then formed a new band called Last Chance which later with the addition of Marc McClure and Kevin Kelly became known as Gas Food & Lodging. They toured nationally with the Pat Boone Show. Art also toured with Tim Buckley and recorded the soundtracks for the “Bionic Woman”, and “Freebie and the Bean”.

Art recorded albums with Duane Smith and Joanne Grauer before touring with OC Smith, Lena Horne and Englebert Humperdink. He performed with the San Diego Symphony and taught guitar at San Diego State before moving to Nice, Monaco where he lives and performs today.

 

Bill Plummer

Bill Plummer

Acoustic and Electric Bass – Vocals

For more on Bill, please see his onsite biography.