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Eddie Money


Although blue-collar Arena rocker EDDIE MONEY arrived on the scene just as the new wave and punk movements were in full flow, the singer/multi-instrumentalist nevertheless resonated with an American audience looking for something safe and aligned to the roots of rock’n’roll. And bolstered by many MTV-friendly hits after signature tunes rocketed up the charts (`Baby Hold On’ and `Two Tickets To Paradise’ his most noteworthy), Eddie couldn’t resist the tempting foibles that maligned the rock’n’roll biz – i.e. drink and drugs.
Born Edward Joseph Mahoney, March 21, 1949, Brooklyn, New York, the lad looked destined to follow in his father’s footsteps as a cop; and to a certain level, he did just that by way of attending the local police academy for a few years. Somehow Eddie knew that he’d eventually have to choose between this vocation and his other night-time exploits fronting rock’n’roll combos, therefore his decision to relocate to Berkeley, California to perform in and around the Bay Area, more or less made it easier for him to quit the force. Hard work and hope never left the long-haired Eddie throughout these tough times, and when legendary music executive Bill Graham showed a major interest, the singer, now in his late 20s, jumped at the chance to sign for the promoter’s management company, and, in turn, Columbia Records.
Without a 7-inch single to his name (`Baby Hold On’ appeared high in the charts a few months later), the eponymous EDDIE MONEY (1977) {*7} sold remarkably well considering his competition from the snowballing CBGB’s and buoyant West Coast scenes. Veteran producer Bruce Botnick was behind the singer’s solid sound, a sound eased by the presence of guitarist/co-scribe Jimmy Lyon, saxophonist Tom Scott, bassists Lonnie Turner (ex-STEVE MILLER BAND) and Bob “Pops” Popwell, drummer Gary Mallaber, and keyboardist Alan Pasqua. Together with a cover of SMOKEY ROBINSON’s `You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me’ and universal airplay for the aforesaid `Two Tickets…’, the LP cracked the Top 40.
1979’s LIFE FOR THE TAKING {*7} fared slightly better in a commercial sense, and indeed `Maybe I’m A Fool’ staked a place outside the Top 20. However, its slicker production values on the likes of `Can’t Keep A Good Man Down’ (a minor hit) and `Gimme Some Water’, pitted him against staples, BOB SEGER, BILLY SQUIER and The J. GEILS BAND.
Several subsequent single hits spawned from albums PLAYING FOR KEEPS (1980) {*6} and NO CONTROL (1982) {*7} – the latter included his most catchy to date, `Think I’m In Love’ – kept the ball rolling and the wolf from the door, so to speak, but the disappointingly drug-affected WHERE’S THE PARTY? (1983) {*4} – with no Lyon in tow – slumped by comparison.
The EDDIE MONEY of old had to change with the tide, and bolstered by the retro-rock of Top 5 smash, `Take Me Home Tonight’ – interpolating a chorus by RONNIE SPECTOR of “Be My Baby” – sixth set CAN’T HOLD BACK (1986) {*7} restored the faith; as did the equally chart-performing `I Wanna Go Back’ and `Endless Nights’.
The 80s decade had so much going for it; a time when rock/pop music spread into so many directions, but it was equally fickle when an artist failed to represent something that was clearly their own sound. And maybe when the blue-collar MONEY man sounded as if he’d flown in on the same plane as HENLEY, MELLENCAMP and ADAMS for 1988’s NOTHING TO LOSE {*6}, that uniqueness was in question; though the Top 50 set did include big-ticket items, `Walk On Water’ and the schmaltzy `The Love In Your Eyes’.
On the back of his marriage to Laurie Harris, a “Greatest Hits – Sound Of Money” in 1989 featured one of Eddie’s biggest hits to date, `Peace In Our Time’. However, by 1991’s session-friendly RIGHT HERE {*5}, attendant hits `Heaven In The Back Seat’, `I’ll Get By’ and `Fall In Love Again’, didn’t quite transfer to album sales. When the lackluster UNPLUG IT IN (1992) {*5} mini-set failed to register a Top 100 spot, Columbia Records dropped the bombshell on the singer.
Duly relegated to the golden oldies circuit to pay the bills, fresh albums did appear from time to time. And after the rather obscurio for Wolfgang Records, LOVE AND MONEY (1995) {*4}, CMC International took up the reins for SHAKIN’ WITH THE MONEY MAN (1997) {*4} – a live set of past glories – and the altogether heavier proposition of READY EDDIE (1999) {*5}. Now working alongside songsmiths Curt Coumo, Frankie Sullivan and others such as drummer Kenny Aronoff, MONEY may have tried too hard to re-create his “Two Tickets…” period, but there was signs of a comeback in tracks `Ready To Rock’, `Let It Go (Dedicated To Jack And Diane)’ and the HENLEY-esque `Don’t Say No Tonight’.
But for cameos for Kevin James’ sitcom vehicle, “The King Of Queens” (playing the sax), little to nothing was heard from Eddie whilst he helped raise his five children in Westlake Village, California. The demon drink was shown the door in 2003 after a spell at rehab; though smoking was still his curse. A comeback covers set for Big Deal Records in 2007, WANNA GO BACK {*6}, proved at least to himself and his loyal supporters that he could still rock’n’roll with the best of them; top-notch examples `Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, `Hold On, I’m Comin’’ and `Mockingbird’, featured talented daughter Jesse Money on back-up vocals.
In July 2019, just as the “Real Money” Reality TV star was about to unveil his self-financed 12th album, BRAND NEW DAY {*5}, it was reported that Eddie had recently underwent heart valve surgery. However complications arose in the shape of pneumonia, which forced him to cancel prospective concert dates. Then on August 24, the doctors found he’d stage 4 esophageal cancer which spread rapidly until he sadly passed away in an L.A. hospital on September 23, 2019.
© MC Strong/MCS Sep2019

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