A Legacy of Love and Music to San Francisco,
The Bay Area, and Beyond
by Blandina Farley
Delayed but undaunted by the pandemic, Rudy Colombini, North Beach native and musical legend, is moving full speed ahead as the creator of the San Francisco Music Hall of Fame, a world-class, interactive hub of music and art. There, musicians of all styles and skills will come together to honor legends of the past while creating a dynamic present and insuring an enduring future of music here and on the international stage.
© Blandina Farley
Who is Rudy Colombini?
Colombini was raised on Kramer Place, a tiny alley tucked away down a short stairway at the base of Telegraph Hill. He attended Sts. Peter and Paul grammar school, where he received first holy communion and was confirmed. Music was Colombini’s first love and the center of his life.
“I taught myself to play, learning from the neighborhood kids. When I was 17, I started a band (the Stragglers) with them. Our first gig was at the Spaghetti Factory on Green Street. We covered David Bowie, the Beatles, the Kinks, and some original songs.”
The Stragglers played some other venues like the San Francisco Art Institute and Cesar’s Latin Palace, located in a basement nightspot, also on Green.
Then fate intervened. Sts. Peter and Paul Church served as the funeral site for his father (when Colombini was 18) and his mother, when he was 21.
“After they died, I had a nervous breakdown. I didn’t know what that was then because we didn’t have therapists. But I know now, and I didn’t start healing until my early 30s.”
If playing music was his first aspiration, writing it was his second, a passion no doubt fueled by a chance encounter with Beatle John Lennon. Crossing paths on the corner of Union and Buchanan Streets, a bold young man asked his idol how he went about getting inspiration for his songs. “I steal a little here, and I steal a little there. The words are all there; you just grab them.”
Colombini suggests, “Nothing in this universe happens by accident…the probability of a Beatle coming to my ‘doorstep’ and saying ‘hi’ to me first is rather extraordinary…there was a purpose to it all.”
Inspired, no doubt, Colombini pursued songwriting. And, he started a series of bands to introduce his works. His bands, Twist and the Divine Comedy, followed the Stragglers. When the Divine Comedy broke up, Colombini left the music scene for two years until one day, he picked up his guitar and wrote ‘Under the Impression,’ ‘Message of Love,’ and five other songs for the successful album, Invincible, released in 1999.
The response was so great that, in 2000, he developed the Unauthorized Rolling Stones, one of the West Coast’s first significant tribute bands, which continues to this day. In all, Colombini has maintained his dual roles as a singer and as creator of many songs, resulting in four albums and hundreds of appearances throughout the West Coast.
Rudy and Festival dancer.
© Blandina Farley
Colombini as Businessman
“I was a business natural. We didn’t have much money when I was a kid, and my parents didn’t buy me toys. So, I learned to make, find, and trade them. When you don’t have things, you learn to acquire them, and I was street smart.”
Out of the early grueling experiences of his life, Colombini began to understand the job of making community his family and, on the other side, developing a hardcore drive to take charge and succeed.
Colombini attended classes at UCSF, earning a degree in business. He wanted to become a banker, but those institutions let him know that he didn’t fit the “banker mold.” Instead, he started buying and developing real estate, beginning with small properties and eventually turning many of them into hotels. To date, Colombini has owned 16 buildings, including five hotels, in San Francisco. The success of those business ventures of the San Francisco Music Hall of Fame will be the permanent and ever-evolving curated exhibits or “Visionaris” of music-related items that span from the earliest musicians to the emerging artists of today. Here, budding artists can connect with each legend and visually immerse themselves in the actual feelings of what it takes to bring their own ambitions to fruition. The exhibit will include videos, instruments, authentic artifacts, outfits, and more for an ever-changing and explosive interactive experience.
As Rudy Colombini continues to live out his childhood dream—-singer, songwriter, entrepreneur-—he now turns his heart and soul to focus on the San Francisco Music Hall of Fame. He feels a compelling need to “Wake up the Dragon” in San Francisco by transcending animosity with community and reigniting San Francisco and the Bay Area as a place to come together and unite the world through the power of love and music.
Bowing to the crowd at the newly-returned North Beach Festival.
© Blandina Farley