California Dreaming (1973-1983)
Lombardy made the jump to the West Coast to be an actor. He studied at the American Academy of the Dramatic Arts in LA during the day, and trained with famed acting coach Lee Strasberg until the early morning hours. He ended up in more than 50 productions. While he was performing as Tony in West Side Story in LA’s Simi Valley, a man approached him about a band he was managing that was looking for a lead singer. He sang for them in their North Hollywood studio once, and was hired on the spot.
Performing under the name Anthem, the band lived in a group house in West Covina, but eventually, the quartet changed their name to Foreplay and moved up to San Francisco.
Lombardy landed in the scene epicenter of Mill Valley, the same neighborhood Jack Kerouac and the other Beat poets lived in during the late '50s. Foreplay shared stages with the likes of Steppenwolf, Eddie Money, and Huey Lewis and the News.
"I had hair down to here," Lombardy says, pointing mid-chest. "It was just another world, another time. We were rock and rollers."
Being in Mill Valley, Lombardy lived for seeing shows as much as playing them. The nearby Sweetwater Music Hall, which he describes as not much bigger than Rick’s Café in Chagrin (so, tiny), was known for acts to do a set or two before they hit the road.
"Imagine you and I are there, having a drink one night; it’s two bucks a drink, we’re having a good time," he recounts. "Not many people. All of a sudden, roadies come in with equipment, they set up. Guess who sings for six hours and you and I are sitting there and it doesn’t cost us nothing except our beers? Van Morrison."
But he recalls one of the best concerts he’s ever seen at the Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood. "The place is packed," he says. "Guy comes down on a pole, he’s got no shirt on. Van Halen. I’m watching Van Halen play at the Whisky, they’re not even signed. They’re a garage band. And they’re MIND-BLOWING."