By Paul Grein
It’s hard to believe, but this year marks the 40th anniversary of the release of Eddie Money’s eponymous debut album. The album, which spawned the hits “Baby Hold On” and “Two Tickets to Paradise,” went double platinum. Money scored 11 top 30 hits on Billboard’s Hot 100, including “Take Me Home Tonight,” “Walk on Water” and “Peace in our Time.” Money’s career peaked in 1986 when “Take Me Home Tonight” reached the top five and received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male. The song featured a refrain from the Ronettes’ 1963 classic “Be My Baby,” sung by that group’s lead singer, Ronnie Spector.
Money was born Edward Mahoney in Brooklyn, N.Y. His brother, father and grandfather were all members of the New York City Police Department. Money himself was an NYPD trainee in the mid-’60s.
Money has had a number of career boosts in recent years. In 2002, he was the focal point of an episode of The King of Queens. (Series star Kevin James, a fan, came up with the story for the episode.) Five years ago, Money was featured in a popular commercial for GEICO which featured “Two Tickets to Paradise.”
Money will appear at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills on January 26th and at The Rose in Pasadena on January 27th.
Money spoke to The Tolucan Times from his home north of Malibu.
I understand that your show is a family affair.
I’ve got my son Julian playing drums for me. He’s only 21 years old, but he’s a great drummer. My other son Desmond is a great guitar player. He’s got a group called Dez Money and Idle Hands. He’s playing rhythm guitar for me. My daughter Jesse is a great singer. She comes out and does all the high harmonies. It’s basically a family show. It’s really a lot of fun.
It’s fitting that three of your kids have followed you into music, because you initially went into the same field as your dad.
I was on the waiting list to go into the Police Academy, but I couldn’t see myself in a police uniform for 20 years of my life, with short hair. So I quit the Police Department and I moved out to California.
This was in 1968?
Yeah. I made my bones with people like Sammy Hagar, Tower of Power and Greg Kihn up in the Bay Area. I learned how to be funny on stage. I learned how to communicate with the audience. I didn’t get a record deal until 1975. From ‘68 to ‘75, I was playing all the clubs. Then I got signed by the legendary Bill Graham and Columbia Records. The next thing I knew I was on Saturday Night Live and Merv Griffin and Mike Douglas and Dinah Shore and Midnight Special. We sold a lot of records and had a lot of fun.
Bill Graham was one of the greatest concert promoters in rock history. He was your manager for 16 years. What can you tell me about him?
When my first record came out, Bill shared a lot of (his) profits with the people that worked in his office, which I thought was a very nice gesture. I played the US Festival (in 1982) for Bill. He had me on the road with The Rolling Stones. I played with The Who. I played with The Steve Miller Band and Fleetwood Mac. I mean, I played with everybody. It was a great ride. He was a great guy. Unfortunately, he died in 1991 in a helicopter accident coming back from a Huey Lewis (& the News) show. That was a very tragic day in my life. I was very close to him. I was like a second son to him.
He was just 60 when he died. He accomplished a lot in a fairly short life.
I’ll be 68 in March. I’ve passed Bill Graham. I miss him every day. I’ve got a picture of him in my room—the two of us together. He did an awful lot for me.
You’re usually categorized as a “blue-collar rocker.” Is that how you see yourself?
I’m kind of like Bob Seger. My biggest market is Detroit. I’m a meat-and-potatoes kind of rock and roller.
You wrote or co-wrote five of your 11 top 30 hits, but you didn’t write “Take Me Home Tonight.” How did that come about?
It was written by a couple of guys in England (Mike Leeson and Peter Vale). Originally I had Martha Davis from The Motels singing the ‘Be My Baby’ part. I said ‘We’ve got to get the real deal.’ I wound up getting Ronnie’s telephone number. I told her about the song. I said, ‘This song is a tribute to you. Would you think about coming in and doing the video for me?’
You haven’t had a hit since 1992, but you keep going. I think the real test for a performer is what happens after the hits stop; when you don’t have all that record company muscle behind you.
I’ve had my day in the sun. I’ve got nothing to (complain) about. I have a lot of hits. My voice is holding up. I’ve got my weight down. I still have all my hair. I’ve got to tell you: Life’s been pretty good.
Like a lot of rock stars, you’ve had your battles with addiction.
I wound up in a hospital. It was a major drug overdose. I started going to AA Meetings at 6am. I wanted to quit drinking and doing drugs. I’m nine years completely clean and sober.
Tell me about your foundation.
I’ve got a foundation called Pets for Vets. What we do is take dogs that are probably going to be put to sleep and teach them how to (assist) these veterans in wheelchairs. Anytime you pick up an Eddie Money T-shirt, you’re helping these dogs and these vets.
I watched your videos on YouTube. A lot of the viewer comments say, “He belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” You’ve been eligible since 2002, but you’ve always been passed over. How much do you want to get in?
I’m in the Long Island Music Hall of Fame (he was inducted in 2008). I grew up in New York, so I’m in the Hall of Fame that I belong in. I’d like to get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the sake of my children. The children are on me, ‘Dad, why aren’t you in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?’ Then I have to say, ‘Why isn’t Styx in? Why isn’t Peter Frampton in? Why isn’t Mitch Ryder and the (bleeping) Detroit Wheels in?’ Warren Zevon, who wrote ‘Werewolves of London,’ isn’t in. It’s disappointing every year. It would be nice to get in, but I’m not going to hold my breath. I’ve always been a peoples’ star. The fans always loved me, but the critics weren’t always crazy about me.
Money will perform at The Rose on January 27th. For more information visit RoseConcerts.com/events/eddie-money/.
Paul Grein writes regularly about pop music for such outlets as Yahoo.com and HitsDailyDouble.com.