With three decades, more than 25 top 100 hits, and guest appearances on two popular sitcoms, and MTV’s ‘Rock The Cradle’, as well as three of the top-selling video games on the market, Eddie Money’s still ‘shakin’ the entertainment world and fans from generation to generation, and there’s no slowing him down. Running circles around the rest of us, he plays upwards of 200 shows a year, contributes extensively to charity and benefit work, and still finds time to be a full time dad, work on a Broadway production, and crash the Nashville scene with a country hit. I had a chance to catch up with him recently, just a couple of days before his 59th birthday. Check it out!
Wednesday, 8:48a.m….My alarm clock didn’t go off….right up there with ‘the dog ate my homework’ on the lame-ass excuse scale, right? I know, but that’s really the deal. Of course, I’m discovering this twelve minutes before I’m scheduled to interview Eddie Money….an interview that’s been in the works for three months, no less. So, thank God it’s a phoner (interview in feety pj’s anyone?), recorder’s ready to go, and espresso’s only a block away. Besides, Eddie’s doing shows almost every night and has been for months. I’m probably waking him up, right?…So why does he sound like he just won a triathalon while I’m praying to the gods of Starbucks? Let’s ask him….
Blast: Hey Eddie, how’s it going?
Eddie Money: Great, it’s going great! You?
B: I’m good, thanks. You’re up early for someone on tour?
EM: Yeah, hey when you’re not drinking and doing drugs, and you’re raising kids, you get up early.
B: So what’s new and exciting?
EM: Well, I’m working on a Broadway show called ‘Two Tickets To Paradise’. Takes place back in the late 60’s; summer of love, ’67, ’68, when I moved out to California after I worked for the police department. My brother was in Vietnam at the time; he was MIA. Then I moved to California and got my band going and all that. It’s really a good play; I wrote seven or eight new songs for it. So I’m doing that and I’ve also got a single that’s on country radio that’s doing really well, if you can believe that. I did it in Nashville and Vince Gill came in and sang a couple of songs too, so we’re getting a lot of airplay on it. It’s not like Eddie Money in a cowboy hat, but I think that country today is a lot like classic rock was in the 70’s. I’m very excited about it. Then I’ve also got a lot of shows happening and my daughter’s doing ‘Rock the Cradle’ for MTV, so the phone’s been ringing off the hook. She’s competing against Joe Walsh’s kid, and Bobby Brown’s kid, and Olivia Newton John’s kid, and they’re all getting along, which is great.
B: She performs quite a few shows with you, too, doesn’t she?
EM: Yeah, she does. She won’t be with us at the Wolf Den this weekend, though, because she’s doing the MTV thing.
B: You’ve done shows in the past at the Wolf Den. How does it rate with you?
EM: I love the Wolf Den, they’re very nice to me down there. And it’s great because a lot
of people come out from Connecticut, New York, and Jersey and it’s always been a great fan base for me, so it should be a good show.
B: Are you doing mostly clubs on this tour?
EM: Clubs and some large venues, yeah, and a lot of charity work, too. Sometimes it’s hard on the road, though. Like this Friday, the 21st, is my birthday, and Sunday’s Easter, and my family’s not here; I’ll be by myself. It’s kind of tough, but you do what you gotta do.
B:Your birthday’s Friday? Happy birthday! You’ll be up here that night.
EM: Yeah, I’ll be 49 again, for the tenth time!
B: OK, a few years’ experience is not a bad thing… I don’t think anyone’s counting. So…tell me about ‘Wanna Go Back’. What made you want to do that one?
EM: ‘Wanna Go Back’ is a great album. I put a bunch of songs together from the 60’s from when I was in a group called Grapes of Wrath in high school. It was a lot of fun to do.
B: Are you doing a lot of those tracks live?
EM: Yeah, we’re doing ‘Higher And Higher’, ‘You Don’t Know Me’ by Ray Charles. When my daughter’s out, we do ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’. I think some of the greatest songs in the world came out of the 60’s and they really go over well, so I’m pretty happy. And we’ve got ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ (singing)…so that might happen, too.
B: I was waiting for that! What a great song.
EM: I know, don’t you love that song?
B: Love it, one of my favorites!
EM: I just love it to death too, but I don’t know if we do it as well as the original. I mean, like, if you did ‘Yesterday’ by the Beatles, you’d never do it as good as Paul McCartney. Or if somebody covered ‘Baby Hold On’, I don’t know if they could do it as well as me.
B: What else is in the set list?
EM: Well, we do songs like that, and we open the set with ‘Two Tickets To Paradise’, ‘Think I’m In Love’, ‘Wanna Go Back’, ‘Take Me Home Tonight’; it’s really a fun show, you’ll get a kick out of it.
B: You’ve had so many hits; how do you narrow it down for the shows?
EM: Yeah, you know, I’ve had 26 top 100 hits. It’s great. We’ve also got ‘Walk On Water’, ‘Give Me Some Water’, ‘Wanna Be A Rock n’ Roll Star’, ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’. I love it!
B: Sounds great; I can’t wait to see the show.
EM: I can’t wait for you to see it. You’re gonna love it!
B: Couple more days! So, let’s go back to your cop days. How long were you on the force?
EM: I was on the force for a couple of years, but I really didn’t want to be in a uniform for twenty years of my life. If I was gonna do that, I would have joined the Marine Corps or the Army, you know? Besides, my hair was getting really good, and long in the back, so I quit and moved out to California. Then I was signed by the legendary Bill Graham and Columbia Records and sold millions of records. I should have saved the money! Who knew?
B: Were you still playing while you were working as a cop?
EM: Yeah, I still had the band and we were doing a lot of clubs, in fact, if you have a copy of ‘Wanna Go Back’, check out the back and there’s a picture of the Grapes of Wrath’ from 1966, I think. You probably weren’t even born then, huh?
B: Nope, ’72.
EM: You’re just a baby!
B: I have great taste in music.
EM: Why, thank you! And we’re going to give you some this weekend at the Wolf Den!
B: Wouldn’t miss it! Let’s talk about TV. You’ve done your share of that, too.
EM: Yeah, Drew Carey, King of Queens. In face, Kevin James is going to come up for one of the shows this weekend and sing ‘I’ll Get By’.
B: Nice; that’ll be cool. That episode of King of Queens was priceless!
EM: That was fun. It was great meeting Jerry Stiller; he’s a great comedian and what a nice guy.
B: Are we going to see more of you on TV?
EM: I don’t know about that. If I get the call, I’ll go on. I’m doing this ‘Rock The Cradle’ thing now. I sang with my daughter, so I’ll be back on for that soon.
B: I’m always curious about where it all started. Were you one of those little kids running around in a diaper, singing into a hairbrush or did it grab you later?
EM: Well yeah, pretty much when I was little. I was running around with a harmonica at about six and my grandparents would come over with all the Broadway shows, like ‘Damn Yankees’, so I’d run around the house singing, doing all those tunes. Then when Elvis Presley came out in ’55 I was like, ‘wow, this guy’s so cool!’. So, you know, I’m 58 years old, I was around for the birth of rock n’ roll, from the very beginning. One second you’ve got ‘(How Much Is) That Doggie In The Window’, by Patti Page, and the next thing you know you’ve got ‘Hound Dog’, by Elvis. Radio really changed for the better in ’55, ’56.
B: So when did you actually start performing publicly?
EM: In about seventh grade. I put a rock band together. Hey, I was in a rock band before the Beatles came out!
B: Way to get the girls!
EM: Oh, yeah! Hey, the best way to do that if you can’t be the star football player is to be in a rock band!
B: Your music is categorized as classic rock, but you’ve pretty much swept every generation right up to this one. There are nine year olds running around with Guitar Hero controllers singing ‘Shakin’. You’ve gotta love that.
EM: I know! I’m on Guitar Hero and Grand Theft Auto, too, which is amazing. And there are a lot of young people coming out to the shows. ‘Take Me Home Tonight’ is the most popular fraternity song at all the colleges for about the last five years. For some reason, they all love that song; kids are singing it drunk off their butts while they’re doing kegs of beer at frat parties and it’s just crazy. I guess what goes around comes around. It’s pretty cool for me.
B:Your schedule’s pretty full this tour, too. Do you normally do this many shows?
EM: Yeah, well I try to work at least three to four days a week every week ‘cause the other guys in the band all have families and if I don’t work with them, they’ll go out on the road with REO Speedwagon, or Styx, or Survivor or Kenny Loggins. They’re all really good musicians; it’s easy for them to find work, and then it’s hard to get them back, so the best way to keep a great rock n’ roll band together is to work at least every weekend. Besides, if you get a lot sleep, take vitamins, stay sober, and don’t smoke, you’re ok. You can take it all and burn the candle at both ends. Like, I’m off to Pennsylvania right now. Here it’s 82 degrees, I’m gonna be back in, like, 30 degree temperatures there!
B: Yeah, that’s pretty cold.
EM: It is, too. Is it cold up there today, or what?
B: Yeah, it’s about 35 right now, and that’s actually pretty warm for this week.
EM: Ooh yeah, that’s what I’m saying! Not looking forward to that!
B: 82 sounds pretty good. So, you’ve lived in California pretty much since the beginning of your career?
EM: Yeah, since ’68. I went to UC Berkeley and got my record contract in ’76. Long time ago. Four years after you were born, I got a record deal!
B: Way to look at it! Never a burning desire to move back to NY, though? Most New Yorkers are like us Boston people; they never really seem to leave it behind completely.
EM: I actually do spend a lot of time there. Now that I’m doing a Broadway show I might get and apartment in Manhattan. The script and the new music is completely done, so I’m trying to sell that, and now I’m looking at a hit single on country radio and the MTV thing, so I’ve got a lot on my plate. And they want me to do put another CD out, but I don’t really have time to do that right now. They want me to finish up the country CD, too; about seven or eight more songs in Nashville, so we’ll see what happens with that. But I’m still a rock guy!
B: Well, I’m really looking forward to the show Friday. Thanks very much for taking some time out to chat today, it’s been a lot of fun.
EM: Ok, thanks! See you this weekend!
Ok you guys, so that’s it. On the record with Eddie Money. Pretty cool stuff! Stop by Eddie’s official website and myspace page (links below) for spring/summer ’08 tour dates and info on how to get your copy of ‘Wanna Go Back’, a CD we are absolutely lovin’.
Many thanks to Eddie for a great interview and my buds down at Starbuck’s who can pull a quad macchiato at warp speed!