Detroit Womans Hospital 1953

Johnny Lombardi and Mary Quinlan were married in June 1949 at St. David's Catholic Church. I was born in 1953 at Woman's Hospital in downtown Detroit, the only child. We lived downtown on Pingree and Woodward. In 1957 we moved to an apartment on Shaffer and Greenfield for a year while we waited for a new home to be built in Nankin Township, a few miles west of the city.

Michael Lombardi as a baby
Weekends were spent traveling back and forth visiting grandparents and vacations were always spent in Canada visiting relatives. I never cared for Canada too much. It's a beautiful country and don't have anything against Canadians but Detroit
was my City and the Canada was on the other side of the river! During the summer months I stayed with my Quinlan grandparents in Lincoln Park. My Uncle Jim lived on the next block. He had a boat and would take me on rides up and down the Detroit River. My aunt Jeri also lived in the neighborhood. She was a teacher at the local school and during the summer was in charge of recreational activities. I always had something to do.
Windsor from Detroit
ATA House Rear 8641 Hubbard Westland Michigan We moved from our small apartment in Detroit to a house with three bedrooms and a basement on the corner of Hubbard drive and Anita drive in Garden City. It was a brand new neighborhood with a lot of kids. All of the houses were new and many were still being built. Later, in the '60's, our Garden City address changed to the City of Westland. ATA House Front 8641 Hubbard Westland Michigan
Western Wayne County Gun Range When my dad was in the Naval Reserve he taught marksmanship. There were always guns in the house. They were kept in my parents' room where I was not allowed. One day my mom caught me snooping around in their closet looking at the guns. Mom had a fit and the following weekend my dad took me to the Wayne County Conservation Association gun range. I was so excited. I loved westerns and Roy Rogers was my hero. I was just 6 years old. I remember it was a Friday afternoon. We were the only people on the 100 yard rifle range.
Except for Saturday Morning television I had never heard a gun fire before. My dad set me up at the gun table on two milk crates, loaded up a Winchester 32 special (like a 30.30), put a cloth between my shoulder and the gun and told me how to aim at the target. Pulling the trigger was the biggest surprise I ever had. It was so violent. It knocked me back, hurt my shoulder, and it was very loud!
I instantly understood why we don't play with guns in the house! My shoulder turned black and blue and I reveled in showing off my bruises to everyone. After that, we went to the range almost every weekend. My mom came most of the time. She was a good shot. The target shown here is hers from 15 yards with a .32 caliber handgun. Johnny had a work bench set up in the basement and we melted out own lead and loaded our own bullets. It's a hobby that I still enjoy when I get to do it. Marge's Target
My first school was Nankin Mills Elementary. It was located at the end of Hubbard Drive and Ann Arbor Trail. It was just over a quarter mile from the house so I walked to school every day and I loved school - until the third grade.
Nankin Mills School 1959
Nankin Mills 1958/59
Nankin Mills School 1960
Nankin Mills 1961/62
St. Bernardine School 1962
St. Bernardine 1962/63
St. Bernardine School 1963
St. Bernardine 1963/64
As an only child I was used to getting my way all of the time. All it took was a temper tantrum. I didn't really play well with others nor did I take direction well. I didn't like my teacher telling me what to do, wouldn't do my homework, and wouldn't pay attention. I was always grounded. Grounded for me wasn't simple like having to stay in my room, it was doing something that I absolutely did not want to do. The whole summer after 2nd grade, every day, I had to pick dandelions from the lawn and put them in paper bags. It was my punishment for taking Ronnie Smith's baseball cards. It was a good lesson. After that, I never took anything that didn't belong to me.
St. Bernardine School 1964
St. Bernardine 1964/65
St. Bernardine School 1965
St. Bernardine 1965/66
St. Bernardine School 1966
St. Bernardine 1966/67
Dominican Nuns In 3rd grade I got bused to Mckee Elementary School where I got into even more trouble. My Mother's family were strict Irish Catholics. Carpenters, Firemen, Police Officers, Customs Agents, Teachers, Priests, and Nuns, Lots of Nuns. I grew up surrounded by Nuns mostly Dominicans. Everyone thought that Catholic School might be the answer to my contrary behavior. I went to St. Bernardine of Siena school for the next four and a half years surrounded by even more Nuns. Great Aunts - Dominican Nuns
Brad Hitter Bradley Hitter had been my best friend since Kindergarten. Every day on my walk home from School I would stop and visit. His mom would always have some cool snack. In 5th grade, Bradley's family moved from the neighborhood to the country out in Northville, west of Plymouth. Brad and I would have sleepovers on the weekends and in the summer we would spend 2 weeks at each others houses. His house was so cool! He lived across the road from Bowman's farm and went to school in a one room school house. All of the grades were in the same room at the same time.
He lived on a dirt road called Brookline and had a large piece of property to play on. Everyone had animals, cows, chickens, and horses. Brad had horses too. Just like every kid, I always wanted a horse. Brad's pet horse was a mean Shetland pony named Apple that only he could ride. I tried but that horse hated me. Brad used to tease me about being a city slicker because I could not ride that horse. I was thrown off, kicked, bit, and bruised year after year. Eventually I lost my want to have a horse. We had BB guns, we hunted stuff, we were cool, no one lost an eye. The Hitter House
Other than at school, I liked hanging around with clergy. They were mostly relatives. I even entertained a vocation as a priest and attended two summer retreats at Divine Word Seminary in Perrysburg, Ohio. It was actually a fun place to go. There were a lot of activities with a lot of religious instruction mixed in. Attending was supposed to help me figure out if I really wanted to be in that life. One evening I got my answer. Some of the full time seminarians were musicians and they had a rock band. I heard them play one night in the auditorium and my mind was made up. I wanted to be a musician. The Distortions
Michael Lombardi Baby Music I've been playing music longer than I can remember. We always had a piano in the house. Mom would play every day and I would try to follow. I went to a lot of Italian weddings and was in love with the accordion. I started taking Accordion lessons and somewhere around 7 or 8 years old. I played in front of a live audience for the first time with my accordion class. I knew then that all I wanted to do was to play music. I played at family events, birthday parties, church socials, my front porch, and anywhere that someone would listen. My favorite bands were the Ray Conniff Orchestra, Skitch Henderson, Les Brown,
and I never missed the Lawrence Welk Show. In February of 1964 I was watching the Ed Sullivan show when I saw the Beatles for the first time. If you weren't around in 64, it's hard to explain just how much the Beatles influenced the music world and particularly my world. I was a Beatle maniac! I wanted to grow my hair and play guitar but my parents, Marge in particular, would not let me have a guitar. I bought Beatle sheet music and played it on the accordion but it just wasn't right! I didn't want to play the squeeze box any more. Accordion
Airline Guitar In 1966 my parents finally caved in and bought me my first guitar, a 17.00 Montgomery Wards Airline folk guitar but, with Marge there was always a catch like in a hostage situation. In order to get the guitar I had to agree to take piano lessons. I agreed. My teacher was a man named John Machno. He came to my house once a week for lessons. He thought I had potential but always seemed angry with me because I only practiced 30 minutes a day. He had a profound influence on my musical work ethic but it was many years before I realized his point - if you don't practice, nothing happens! I wish I could spend time with him today. The rest of my free time was spent trying to learn guitar.
Even Catholic School couldn't keep me out of trouble. They turned me down when I wanted to be an alter boy. I could sing so they put me in the church choir but then kicked me out for bad conduct. We had an hour for lunch every day. I lived a mile away but I used to leave school and pretend to go home for lunch. Instead, I would skip over to the Lyndon Drug store soda fountain, put nickels in the jukebox, and listen to the Beatles. I got caught when a neighbor reported to my mom that she saw me in the drug store reading magazines. There was hell to pay. Michael Lombardi 12 yerars old
Nankin Mills Junior High I really dreaded Catholic school and everyone knew it so by mutual agreement, over the Christmas holidays of 1966, I left St. Bernardine and went to Nankin Mills Jr. High. I loved it. I was back with the guys I knew from grade school. In February 1967 I ran into my old friend Jim Kerr. Jim and I had been in trouble together back in the 3rd grade. He was cool and I liked him but he had a silver tongue and could talk me into anything. He walked up to me in the hall and said "Hey, you want a job as a disc jockey?" and my immediate reply was "sure".
Jim Kerr was an absolutely brilliant kid. He thought he was invincible and I thought he was too. It was Jim that made the connection with Brian Hadley, station Manager at WYNZ radio in Ypsilanti. Jim had taken a bus there, toured the station and convinced Brian to give him an interview. Jim's second question after asking me if I wanted to be a DJ was could I get us a ride to Ypsilanti. I talked to my parents that night about it. Marge didn't believe a word of it and did not want me to get involved but when she found out that we were planning to hitchhike if we couldn't get a ride she volunteered to drive us. We worked on our pitch to Brian for several days and at 1pm on Saturday February 4th 1967, dressed in a suit and tie, we met in Brian's office. Jim Kerr
WYNZ Radio Station Ypsilanti Michigan Marge sat on a stool in the back corner of the room and didn't say a word. Brian started the interview asking "Why should I let 2 kids have a radio show"? Jim and I talked to him for 30 minutes while he listened and did paperwork at his desk. As usual, Jim did most of the talking about how we would sell our own advertising, do our own promotion, make appearances, and why we would be popular as the youngest DJ team in the country. At the end of the interview Brian looked up from his desk and said he would try us out for a 15 minute show on Saturday afternoons. We got the job, just like Jim said we would. We went on the air the first time at 6 pm Saturday Feb.11th. Our classmates were floored.
Wynz Radio Crew Brian Hadley required a lot from us. We had to learn every aspect of how things worked at a radio station from teletype to turntables, transmitters to towers. We had to study for and pass the FCC exams for a broadcast license and we had to learn how to sell sponsor time for our show. We learned about live remote broadcasting and took a trip to the tower. It was all part of a group effort education in radio. Michael Lombardi FCC License
We had mentors. Brian was the sales and advertising guru, Keith Fry (The Keeter Show) and Ed Gibson (Big Pappy Show) were the board experts, Ken was the technical engineer, and Bob Hall was a producer and country music DJ. Brian put together a sales book with graphics and numbers and we went out to sell time. We wore suits, Jim carried a brown briefcase.
WYNZ Radio Station 1 WYNZ Radio Station 2 WYNZ Radio Station 3 WYNZ Radio Station 4
WYNZ Radio Interview Pumpkin Teen Club Our first sponsor was Harvey Goldstine, owner of The Pumpkin, a teenage nightclub with live bands and a faux bar. They served non-alcoholic liquor and beer. Local bands like Bob Seger, The Wanted, Titlewaves, Woolies, etc, played on weekends. We taped an interview with Harvey and played it on the air. We had call in contests and gave away free passes to the clubs. Jim and I would get on stage introduce ourselves, talk about the radio show and introduce the bands. Some of the other teen clubs we promoted were the Crow's Nest West, The Mump, The Chatterbox, Hideout, the HighTide Room, the By-pass and several others.
I was only 13 at the time and my parents were behind me 100% but there were rules, threats and lessons. Grades came first. After that it was whatever Marge said came first and she had a lot to say! If I didn't follow her orders she threatened to cancel my show or take away my guitar, anything to be in control. She had a long history of putting on live shows starting with USO shows. In the late 40's and early 50's she traveled the US producing musical plays for charity. She also worked at WJR Radio playing background piano live on the air behind commercials. She had a lot of experience and an overwhelming need to apply it to what I was doing. Michael Lombardi WYNZ Promo Picture
Marge Lombardi Right away, Marge appointed herself manager and director of everything we did. By the time the show was 6 weeks old it was very clear that Marge and Jim were never going to get along. They would have screaming matches in the next office while I was on the air. It was awful. All I could think was poor Brian being in the middle. He finally settled things by splitting us up with our own shows. Jim settled in to be a great DJ which was exactly what he wanted in the first place and I stayed focused on the teen news and music program. Eventually Jim went on to work at several stations including WKNR. The last I heard he was working as a radio personality in NYC. I saw a picture of him shaking hands with President Bush.
To prepare for my show I had to go through a lot of newspapers. More than just playing records, it was a scripted show. I reported on any teen activities that were going on at the time. I got all of local papers from around the community and found articles to use on the air. Marge would phrase and type my scripts. We argued a lot, mostly about her outdated ideas of production and promotion starting with dress. For 5 years I wore a white shirt and a tie to school and hated it. Now, I had to wear shirt, tie, and a jacket anytime I went out. I had to wear a name tag. The only time I got to wear what I wanted was in school and the school had a dress code. I wasn't happy about it but the results were amazing. Michael Lombardi at WYNZ Radio
Adults treated me like an adult. After all, I was asking them for money to sponsor advertising and they seemed more receptive to do business when I was dressed like them.
Marge thought I should have my own company name and logo to further myself by booking talent. We came up with the name A-Tone-Audio and Visual Enterprises Inc. She along with graphic artist Betty Poynter created a logo and printed letter head.
ATA Studios Promo
Keith Frye and Bob Hall In March '67, Keith Frye became an ATA partner. He and Bob Hall had a talent agency called Bob-Ke. They were already booking and managing bands like The Pendulums, The What Knots, The Bad Seeds, and The Ravens. We rented the space behind Checks Barber Shop at 30775 Ann Arbor Trail and built a recording booth and rehearsal studio. Johnny was interested in recording so he built studio A and purchased the board, tape recorders, mic's etc. Johnny also paid the rent. It was $250. a month. The first band to join ATA was the SixPak, a local high school garage band. Next came the Solo Society, Nobody's Children, Chrome Circus, The Unveiled, Coming Generation, Purple Rush, Changing Ways, Soul Rebellion, Latest Date of Time, Love Syndrome, Lonely Souls, Midnight Riders, Holy Innocence, Euphonic Aggregation and Peaceful Existence. The place was filling up fast. I sent letters to all of the high schools, Jr. High's, VFW halls and the Parks and Recreation departments offering our bands for their events.
Keith and Bob wanted a business that made money. They wanted to charge dues to ATA bands, charge for the rehearsal time in the studio, plus a booking and management fee of 10% of every gig. After spending time with and getting to know the kids, backgrounds, and problems, Marge decided that what they wanted wasn't what ATA Should be about. She recognized that a lot of teens had bad problems and wanted a place for them to go where they could be involved without owing dues. That ended the partnership with Keith and Bob. That was the real beginning of ATA.
From June 1967 on, I was totally immersed in the grass roots of the Detroit music scene. I loved being on stage in the evenings introducing the bands. I got a chance to meet everybody, listen to all the local bands, and hang with the club owners. I invited local bands just coming out with a record to be interviewed on my show and talk about their songs. One of my interviews was with Michael John and the Pendulums. They were promoting a new record called You're Wrong Girl. In the interview they mentioned that they played a lot of ALSAC charity events around the city. ALSAC is the Danny Thomas charity for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. They held dozens of fund raising events through the year including dinners, shows, the once a year walkathon, and teen events, dances, and battle of the bands. Danny Thomas Ether Beckolay
Ether Beckolay Paul CAnnon Gary Granger ALSAC was a big deal. It was a national charity. I had a great interest in getting involved with the teen dances so Michael John (Kuzma) introduced me to the events coordinator Ethel Bekolay. Ethel handled everything from production to scheduling and booking the bands for dances and everyone volunteered their time. She was having a difficult time finding bands for so many events she had already scheduled and that's how ATA got involved. They had venues, we had bands.
We played a lot of high schools for 75. - 125. dollars a night. ATA got 10% of each gig and that helped take the pressure off Johnny for the rent. At one time ATA had 14 bands under management and we played a lot events for Dollars for Scholars, LYI, LINK, and ALSAC. Playing out every weekend made for some excellent bands and everyone could keep their equipment and practice at the studio which made a lot of parents happy. We played for gas money and ATA received no money for these shows but the media exposure was worth it. Nobodys Children Michigan State Fair
There were a lot of Detroit bands playing ALSAC events that were already well established around the city. Wilson Mower Pursuit, The Camel Drivers, Third Power, Scott Richards Case, Jeff and the Atlantics, Pepper and the Shakers, Joe Townes, Red White & Blues, and that's just a few. Playing with them help us get established. On the outside, the bands were very competitive for the appreciation of the audience but the inside was a very friendly community. We shared equipment a lot for the "one stage, 3 bands" shows. Musicians were always moving around from band to band trying to find their sweet spot. Everyone knew everyone else if not by name, by sight and what band they were in.
They all donated their time to ALSAC. Now, instead of high schools, we were playing places like Edgewater, Walled Lake Amusement, JL Hudson's Teen Takeover Day, Bob-Lo Island, Ice Palace, Sheraton Cadillac, and clubs like the Roostertail, Fifth Dimension, Hullabaloos, The Club, and even traveled to the Peppermint Lounge in Toledo, but everyone had their eye on Cobo Hall. This was the Big Show.
You had to earn your way to Cobo Hall by way of playing ALSAC events. The first year, 1967, ATA had 3 bands scheduled to play. Solo Society, The SixPak, and Detroit Vibrations. A few days before the concert a couple of guys in Solo Society broke a curfew rule that Marge had imposed on them. As punishment she removed Solo from the Cobo schedule. I tried to intervene and I got the same punishment. She took 2 bands to play and assisted the producer with scheduling the show. Danny Thomas called Marge up on stage and gave her a plaque of appreciation for ATA. The plaque had my name on it, too bad I wasn't there. The SixPak opened the ALSAC show with Purple Haze and I heard the place went crazy! Marge Lombardi ALSAC Award
Cobo Hall Detroit In 1968 and 69, ATA bands raised over 5 thousand dollars for ALSAC. We were invited to play the big show at Cobo Hall again hosted by Danny Thomas. Marge and I booked the bands and she produced the stage shows to a crowds of over 13,000 people and again she was introduced on stage by Danny Thomas. We all got awards Marge got a big kiss from Danny. At least I was there this time. We played with Bob Seger, Mitch Ryder, Andy Kim, Neil Diamond, Lou Christy, Parlament/Funkadelic, Frijid Pink, Sunday Funnies, Brownsville Station, Frost, SRC, and a lot of others that had also donated their time and music. WKNR was the major sponsor of that event. Jerry Goodwin, Paul Cannon and Gary Granger were the host DJs
Meanwhile, my station, WYNZ, was in the process of being sold to WORD Broadcasting, a faith oriented broadcast network. My show changed from Saturday afternoons to weekends midnight to 6 am. I had two students, Mike Mijal from Stevenson High and Chuck Murphy from Franklin High, that got co-op credits for working with me learning the aspects of broadcasting. They were seniors and I was 14. I had to send reports to the schools for their grades. Marge always signed. Mike was learning to be an equipment and sound engineer and Chuck was formatting and reporting the news. Chuck went on to law school and Mike opened his own recording studio called TripleM in Westland. WYNZ Radio Station Remote Broadcast
The ALSAC shows got bigger, better, and more frequent. In the summer of 69, ATA had a lot of bands under personal management and most of them were playing ALSAC events. We weren't making any money but we were getting great exposure all over the city of Detroit which lead to club bookings.
There were too many events scheduled for ATA to play so we started contacting other agents and managers interested in the ALSAC exposure. We had our own network to book some of the most popular bands around Detroit including Al Nalli, Punch Andrews, Clyde Stevers, Mike Parshall, Jerry Patlow, Kay Koontz, Dick Krause, and we had a lot of help from WKNR, CKLW, Art Serbey, Robin Seymour, Gary Granger, Jerry Goodwin, Paul Cannon, Jim Bruzzese, Jim Berry, Ron Lashardi and Tom Smith, Bernie Adelson, and many more that deserve credit for ALSAC successes.
Marge Lombardi and Danny Thomas ATA ALSAC Award 1967 ATA ALSAC Award 1968 ATA ALSAC Award 1967
Marge was very involved with coordinating shows and events but was also interested in helping teens with problems. Along with all of the bands came runaways, juvenile delinquents, and drugs. There were a couple of organizations already set up to help these kids. I remember one we visited called The Seed. It was a safe place set up like a halfway house. We gave them our support but Marge felt that it was too structured in it's group approach to help individuals and that's when kids started moving into my house. It became known on the street that if you didn't have anywhere else to go you could go to Marge's and she wouldn't turn you away. There were only 3 rules. No lying, no stealing, no drugs. ATA House Backyard
Steve Booker At any given time there were at least a half dozen kids living at the house. During the summer there were a lot more. She was always out in the middle of the night, usually at the police station, picking up kids for one thing or another. She would sit up all night counseling and drinking coffee. It was like a huge family. Some kids stayed a couple of weeks, some stayed for years. She would gather up everyone and we would go to Daly's for a burger or down to the Chess Mate Coffee House 'till 4 am listening to Steve Booker (Maruga) play drums.
For me it was like a commune. I shared everything I owned, even my clothes. I stayed in a tent in the back yard the summer of 69 because there were just too many kids in the house. Before the end of that summer there were two guys staying in the tent with me. Everyone thought I might be resentful but honestly I loved it. There was always something going on and Marge finally had others to focus on instead of just me! I was learning to play guitar from some of the best musicians in town, I was still at the radio station, and still on stage.
Eventually Word Broadcasting did not want us playing Rock and Roll on their station even for transmitter checks so that ended the radio days. I concentrated on ATA, the bands, and my music. I was getting guitar pointers from my personal hero's Jerry Bradley, Arlen Viecelli, Guy Walsh, and Tom Wood until I eventually was good enough to play rhythm guitar with a real band. My first band was with neighborhood kids Dennis Poynter, Philip Slater, and Rick Khron, but now I was in Nobody's Children and we weren't kidding around. Michael Lombardi Studio
Michael Lombardi Nobody's Children We played on the Bob-Lo boat, and won the battle of the bands at Bob-lo and twice at the Michigan State Fair. We played on a float down Jefferson Ave surrounded by the Iron Mustang Motorcycle club, dozens of teen clubs and high schools. By 1970 I was burning out and was losing interest in the business end of ATA but I stayed interested in playing guitar. Lynn Moyer, the lead singer for Nobody's Children got drafted as did one of the lead guitars, Rob Nelson. Danny Moore left the band and then Tom Wood. We replaced people but the band floundered around until it finally ended the summer of 1970.
Without the radio program and lack of business enthusiasm on my part we closed the studio on Ann Arbor Trail and moved it to the basement of the house on Hubbard. Talk about a packed house. There was usual a band set up in the living room and one downstairs practicing in the studio. It was a loud house. Dishes rattled and kids kept moving in. Our neighbors were awesome. The Cross's, Millers, Hugals, Hughes (my high school teacher), and Ofchar's never complained and we were very careful not to offend.
One Sunday morning at 7am I answered a knock at the door. It was a band and all of their gear. They were a road band that had lost their booking in Detroit and had nowhere to go. They had heard from someone on Plumb Street (the Haight-Ashbury of Detroit) that they could stay at Marge's. The band was called Stonehenge. They set up and practiced in the living room for a week before their next booking and moved on. ATA House Living Room
I was about to turn 18 in May of 71 and itching to get out of that house, have my own room and some peace and quiet (no offence anyone!). I would be graduating in June and that was my target to plan my break to freedom.
Chapter two to follow
 
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© 2007 Michael Lombardi