Eddie Money: Paradise Found
By David DeRocco
If you’re heading to Fallsview Casino this weekend chances are you’re going to leave with less money than you walked in with – unless you’ve got two tickets to the musical paradise called the Avalon Ballroom. In that case, you’ll be leaving with lots of “Money” served up to you with enthusiasm by a hit-making songwriter named Eddie.
For the ten years that spanned his self-titled debut in 1977 through to his glorious comeback Can’t Hold Back in 1986, EDDIE MONEY was about as hot as you could get as a singer/songwriter performing rock in an age marked by punk and disco. As one of the first artists to capitalize on the burgeoning popularity of MTV, Money racked up a string of multi-platinum albums on the strength of such timeless classics as “Baby Hold On,” “Two Tickets To Paradise,” “Think I’m In Love,” “I Wanna Go Back,” “Walk on Water,” and his biggest single, “Take Me Home Tonight.” And with the April 2018 debut of his new reality television series, Real Money, a whole new generation of fans are discovering the unique voice of this New York born rock and roll survivor.
On the day of our interview, Money was driving home from the Raiders/Broncos game where he spent the afternoon hanging out with Metallica’s James Hetfield and his wife – just another epic day in the life of a guy who’s clearly enjoying his resurgence as an artist. Money took the time to talk with GoBeWeekly about his upcoming show in the Falls, his new album, Brand New Day, and the benefits of being one of the hardest working guys in show business.
GOBE: So what inspired the new album and the creativity behind it? What’s got you motivated these days.
EDDIE: The thing is you never stop writing. If you’re a writer, you never stop writing. The last three or four years I’ve put a lot of great songs together thinking that eventually I’d put a new record out. Then a big record company, BMG, called me up and said ‘Eddie you’ve got a lot of great fans out there, would you like to put out a new record.’ I said, hey man I’m ready. So I got about 10 or 12 songs, some amazing songs, “Brand New Day,” another one called “Bless the Hero.” I’m really excited about the record. I think people are going to like it.
GOBE: Well your fans have certainly been loyal. You’ve created such a wonderful catalogue of songs, including your hit “I Want to Go Back” which inspires such a warm nostalgia for the past. What songs bring you back to those glory days.
EDDIE: I love that song, “I Want To Go Back.” I recall hanging out on Friday night, the first slow dance and hoping I’d get it right. Remember when you were back in high school, when you were a sophomore or junior in college? It’s those certain things that bring people back, songs like “Baby Hold Onto Me” and “Shakin’.” If you think about it I had 16 songs in the Top 100. That’s like a Billy Joel or a Rod Stewart. I have to thank the big guy upstairs because we had a lot of great songs. And to see people light up when we do these songs on stage, it’s really fantastic.
GOBE: Your hits have such an enduring place in classic rock radio. To what do you own the longevity of those songs. You have to be proud of the quality of the production, the writing and the performance.
EDDIE: I had a great producer, Tom Dowd, who produced some really great records including Rod Stewart. And we had Richie Zeto, some really great producers. When you think about it, who wouldn’t want “Two Tickets to Paradise.” Who wouldn’t want to go back. Who wouldn’t want to be in love. Everybody likes to come out to the show and do some shakin’ with the money man! (Laughs)
GOBE: Looking back as an older and wiser man, if you could go back today to what period would you go back to and would you change anything.
EDDIE: To tell you the truth, back in the 70s you’ve got to remember, I was on the road with the Rolling Stones. I played with The Who. I played with everybody. I was making a thousand dollars a minute for a 75 minute show, and that was back in the 70s. But I tell everybody, I should have saved the money. Who knew! (Laughing).
GOBE: You were cranking out albums back then at a really healthy pace from your debut in ’77 through till the end of the 80s. Are you amazed at the rate you were producing back then, compared to today’s artists that take a year to produce a single.
EDDIE: When I was doing it I was putting out full records. It blows my mind. I have to thank the big guy upstairs who was very good to me because after a year the records starting going platinum. I was writing material on the road. When you think about that video “Shakin,” that was Apollonia from the Purple Rain video. We had some great videos. Bill Graham was a great manager. And Columbia Records was really on fire back then. We did a lot of great shows and had fun. I thank god for the success I’ve had. Now I’m married to a beautiful woman who keeps my career doing great. I have a lot to be thankful for.
GOBE: Well we’re thankful you’re coming up to Niagara Falls. It’s been a while.
EDDIE: It’s a great little rock and roll town. I’ve got a couple of friends up there that own a couple of restaurants. You know about 15 years ago they gave me the key to the city. They held an Eddie Money day. I love Niagara Falls.
GOBE: You were certainly money when you released your debut in ’77. That went double-platinum. What was your overriding emotion at that time. Was it fear that you’d have to follow it up or simply joy at the success.
EDDIE: With me, I was a real go-getter. I really wanted to have success. I think I was the first artist on Columbia Records that was on the phone constantly with all the DJs, going through locked doors and going through the windows to get into radio stations. After playing clubs for so long and driving around in trucks that were breaking down, carrying my own equipment and stuff like that, fighting with a bunch of drunks after the shows, I really wanted to make it. I really worked hard for my success. I was setting the pace for a lot of these new artists coming out. I worked hard and I just had a lot of fun. To me it was a real hustle, but I really wanted to make it for my parents, especially after quitting the police department. My father was very unhappy that I had quit and of course I had that Irish guilt. All of a sudden “Baby Hold On” was on the radio and I called my mother and said ‘mom I have a song on AM radio.’ And she said ‘I told you not to call me on mahjong night.’ (Laughing).
GOBE: Your family produced a lot of police officers. Was that the defining moment for you to make music a career choice rather than becoming an officer, once the single was out. When was the moment you said I’m all in on this music thing.
EDDIE: I think the defining moment was when I did Saturday Night Live and I met John Belushi and Jane Curtain and Dan Akroyd. When I did Saturday Night Live it opened up so many doors for me. The show had just come out and it was a really big show, and getting on and actually doing two songs is what broke Eddie Money. I didn’t have the world’s greatest voice but I had an unforgettable voice. When you heard me on the radio, whether I was a good singer or a bad singer didn’t make any difference. You knew it was Eddie Money.
GOBE: And that drumline in “Two Tickets to Paradise” was certainly iconic. You couldn’t help but like that song.
EDDIE: You have to remember, that drum solo on that first single, I owe that whole thing to Gary Mallaber. He was the drummer for Steve Miller Band. He played with me, him and Lonnie Turner (Steve Miller Band). Lonnie’s out of Buffalo, New York, and he’s got a lot of people coming to the Niagara Falls show this weekend.
GOBE: I’m always intrigued when artists collaborate. How many takes did it take Ronnie Spector to nail that vocal on “Take Me Home Tonight.”
EDDIE: It took a lot of takes to tell you the truth. I hate to tell you that but she had not sang for a long time. I called her up and said ‘this is Eddie Money.’ And she said ‘you have that song, Two Tickets to Paradise.’ I said ‘I’ve got a song called “Take Me Home Tonight” and the second chorus is dedicated to you, ‘be my little baby.” She had not sang in a long time and came down and with Richie Zeto we did the song. But when we did the video, she just stole the show. What an artist she was. We’re still pretty good friends.
GOBE: Here you are in 2018, still touring, still putting out new music. From what do you derive your greatest pleasure these days as you continue to tour and perform. What’s the biggest pleasure in being Eddie Money.
EDDIE: I was on the road with REO Speedwagon and Styx and a couple of groups and then I lost the tour. I got Mick Jagger saying, ‘I like Eddie Money but I don’t want to have to work that hard.’ We can get two or three encores a night. When you talk about being an opener, I’ve got 11 or 12 songs that are all Top 40 songs. To me it’s always been battle of the bands. I want to get out there and kick everyone’s butt.
GOBE: With the new album, what’s the song we should look out for. If you were the record label A&R guy what would you choose as the single, and will you be playing it in Niagara Falls.
EDDIE: Probably the song I’ve got called “Brand New Day.” It’s a fantastic single. Then I have another song called “It’s Just the Way We Roll.” It’s a song about me and my wife. It’s a pretty goofy, fun album. I think people are going to like it.