By Lee Zimmerman
Eddie Money comes by his working class image quite rightfully; before he made the career switch to being a raspy-voiced rocker, he was Eddie Mahoney, a New York City cop. A move to San Francisco in the late ‘70s and a management deal with legendary promoter Bill Graham led to a lucrative contract with Columbia Records, a string of hits (“Baby Hold On,” “Shakin’,” “Two Tickets To Paradise” and “Take Me Home Tonight,” a duet with Ronnie Spector) and a steady presence on MTV. Drugs and alcohol contributed to his decline in the mid-‘80s, but those seeking a classic rock connection might consider the fact that even today, he gives his Money’s worth.
Money isn’t shy about his resume. “I’ve been getting really great reviews,” he breathlessly proclaims moments into our conversation. “The band is amazing. I had 12 songs in the top 100. That’s kind of like a Billy Joel or Bon Jovi. I got a nice shout out by Lady Gaga in Rolling Stone a couple of months ago. Everything’s really going great.”
Having reached the traditional retirement age of 66, Money now resides in Malibu with his wife, adult daughter and four sons. He mostly limits his live dates to weekends, and talks hopefully about “Two Tickets to Paradise — The Musical,” a musical he’s been developing that had a test run on Long Island. He likens the play to “Jersey Boys.” Money also has a new album he’s preparing to shop around called “Shake That Thing,” his first effort of all-new material in 15 years.
Still, at heart, he remains an original Irish homeboy, always prepped with a wisecrack and an unapologetic urge to say whatever’s on his mind.
Goldmine recently caught up with Mr. Money and asked him to share his unusual backstory.
GOLDMINE: So what first convinced you that you weren’t cut out to be a cop and that rock ‘n’ roll was more likely your calling?
Eddie Money: I couldn’t see spending 22 years of my life in a cop uniform. Two years? Fine. Four years? Fine. But 22 years? My father would always tell me that if I had remained a cop, I’d be retired by now.
GM: How did your father take your decision, given that you came from a family of policemen?
EM: My father was very pissed off at me because I quit the police force, and moved out to California. Eventually, I moved up to Berkeley. I didn’t know a soul, but I was smoking a lot of pot, so I didn’t give a sh*t (laughs). At one point, I ended up in jail because my roommate was selling marijuana and my landlord busted me. It was a nightmare, and lots of bad things happened. But a lot of good things, too.
GM: So that must have really alienated you.
EM: I played Madison Square Garden with Santana and Cyndi Lauper and my father comes to the show and was still pissed off I quit the police department. Can you believe that sh*t? He thought rock ‘n’ roll was a fly-by-night job. Then when my mother died, I take him on the road with me and he finally began to realize I was really talented. Not to blow my own horn, but what the heck?
GM: You weren’t exactly a latecomer either. Didn’t you play in local bands as a kid?
EM: I was always trying to get better and better and better. I was working at it ever since high school when we played in the battle of the bands. Whoever won the battle of the bands got to play the high school prom.
GM: When did you know you had made it as a performer and that singing would be your livelihood?
EM: I knew when I was doing Saturday Night Live and Letterman and Leno. My career really took off, but it took off because we had some great songs. I always had a large local following because we played all the local clubs. I told everybody to get up close so the place would look packed, and we went into “Two Tickets To Paradise” and “Life For The Taking” and really rock ‘n’ rolled the place. Bill Graham’s people spotted me one night and apparently liked the show I put on. I loved Bill Graham. He was a fantastic guy. I grew my hair long, had a bunch of girlfriends and was playing in a rock ‘n’ roll band. There’s nothing like playing in a rock ‘n’ roll band.
GM: You got to open for a lot of big names back in the day. Who were some of the more memorable?
EM: I opened for the Stones, the Clash and a bunch of big bands. I got thrown off the Rolling Stones tour in 1979 for getting too many encores. They told me, “We love Eddie but we can’t work that hard.” If you get thrown off a Rolling Stones tour because you’re too good, I think that’s quite a compliment.
GM: You’ve admitted in the past that you let your vices get the best of you.
EM: I’d get up in the morning and have a Bloody Mary first thing. Then a cocktail during the day and Irish coffees at night. But once I had a family, I knew I had to quit. You don’t want to have your kids grow up thinking you’re a dope addict and an alcoholic. Nowadays, I see beers advertised on TV and I wonder what they taste like. It drives me crazy. But I don’t want to break my sobriety. I don’t want to do it to myself. When I quit drinking, everybody was happy but me (laughs).
GM: Have you ever considered taking the route that a lot of seasoned musicians take and write a tell-all autobiography?
EM: I definitely have a book in me but my wife is very shy. She doesn’t want to hear about all the drugs I did or how many girls I’ve screwed. GM