“Two Tickets to Paradise.” “Take Me Home Tonight.” “Baby Hold On.” “Think I’m In Love.” “Gimme Some Water.” “Shakin’.” “Wanna Be a Rock ‘N’ Roll Star.”
Back in the 1970s and ’80s, Eddie Money gave rock ‘n’ roll a series of singles that have become an essential part of the classic rock catalog. Those songs were also good to him, not only allowing the former New York policeman to live out his dreams to the fullest but provide a lengthy career.
While the veteran musician still records and tours around the country, he’s also been giving back to those in need through a variety of charitable activities. That’s what brings him to the Warren Amphitheatre this Friday when he plays a benefit concert for Relay for Life, which raises funds and awareness to save those afflicted with and those lost to cancer.
An excited Money doesn’t answer the phone for the scheduled interview with “Hello.” Instead, he greets me with the opening lines from the song “Ohio” from the musical “Wonderful Town.”
“Why, Oh why, Oh why, Oh / Why did I ever leave Ohio?”
“We’ve got a lot of friends in Warren, man. Playing golf up there and that fantastic ice cream place Handel’s. I’m gonna gain 20 pounds when I’m there. Gotta lot of friends back in that area – Youngstown, Cortland and Warren. It’s gonna be great, and we’re going to be playing all the hits.”
When the name of the local charity is brought up, he replied, “It’s a great organization. I get behind a lot of charities, but Relay For Life is close to my heart. I’ve got a lot of friends into that.”
Last April, Money’s longtime friend and drummer, Glenn Symmonds, was diagnosed with bladder cancer. In spite of surgery and the start of chemotherapy treatments, he will be part of Money’s backup band in Warren. To help defray costly medical bills, Money is playing a benefit for Simmonds later this month.
Besides performing at benefits, Money released the single, “One More Soldier Coming Home” on his website, www.eddiemoney.com, with proceeds going to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which helps U.S. military personnel who are injured during their service as well as their families. He also raises money for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
The idea of Money doing something for others doesn’t seem surprising when considering his family’s longstanding service in the New York Police Department. His grandfather, father and brother were among those who patrolled the city’s streets.
At that time Edward Mahoney (his real surname) went into the “family business,” but after two years wearing the blue uniform of the NYPD he felt that the beat of the rhythm called him more than walking the beat.
“I was in a rock band in high school. I found out that the best way to meet cheerleaders without playing on the football team was to be in a rock band,” he said.
He moved to Berkeley, Calif., and slowly established himself in the area’s clubs. Shortly after he took the stagename of Eddie Money, he met iconic concert promoter Bill Graham who managed the singer and helped set him up for a deal at Columbia Records.
At that time Graham said, “Eddie Money has it all not only can he sing, write and play, but he is a natural performer.”
With hook-filled material and a meat-and-potatoes sound radio and MTV embraced his music and videos. The first of Money’s numerous Top 40 singles led to his self-titled debut achieving platinum status. He, later, received a Grammy nomination for “Take Me Home Tonight,” which featured the vocals of Ronnie Spector.
His dad eventually accepted Money’s career choice. “It took awhile. I had to play Madison Square Garden to have the guy come around.”
While the music industry tastes moved from hair metal to grunge, rap metal, boy bands, pop and dance acts, Money persevered. He shed his substance addictions that nearly killed him years earlier and continued to play to longtime fans who still enjoyed the lengthy list of hits.
With his appearance in a Geico insurance commercial, he’s made another generation aware of his music. In the clip, as the owner of Eddie Money Travel, he loudly and proudly sings to his latest customers the chorus to “Two Tickets to Paradise.”
The popularity due to the inclusion of his song “We Should Be Sleeping” in a Beauty Rest mattress commercial has caused him to reinstate the number into his current setlist.
Money’s last album, 2007’s “Wanna Go Back,” finds him covering popular songs from the 1960s. The release features his daughter, Jesse, on three tracks. Asked how he feels about his children getting into the music business, his paternal instincts immediately pop up and he sounds like his own father probably did more than 40 years ago when a young Eddie left the force.
“I think they’re outta their minds. How do you think I feel? I hate it. Why couldn’t they be dentists or CPAs or doctors or lawyers instead of dropping out of college and thinking they’re going to be famous?”
As frustrated as he is that his offspring want to get involved in the music business, he remains supportive. Still, he does that while recording new songs such as “Wishing Well” and “Shake That Thing” for an album that may come out later this year and is working on his autobiographical jukebox music, “Two Tickets to Paradise.”
And just as he started the interview, an energetic Eddie Money leaves with these words of wisdom. “Come down to the show. Do some shakin’ with the Money Man. I’ve got two tickets to paradise, and I’m taking everybody.”