"I wanna go back, and do it all over, but I can't go back I know. — Eddie Money
Eddie Money lay motionless following a near lethal combination of vodka, cocaine and barbiturates. The year was 1981. As Money lay in a twilight state in the hospital, nurses administering dialysis and trying to get the singer's legs again functioning, "Baby Hold On To Me" came on the radio.
"The nurses were singing it to me," Money said via phone from Los Angeles. "It was like these actors in green masks were singing my song. It was something out of the movies."
It took Money a year to recover and ultimately walk again, but once he returned he scored his biggest commercial success with 1982's "No Control," featuring the mega-hits "Shakin'" and "Think I'm in Love." He hit the stratosphere in 1986 with his duet with Ronnie Spector, "Take Me Home Tonight" and "I Wanna Go Back."
But it was never all instant successes for the New York native.
"I went to UC Berkley in San Francisco and I would play all the disco bars with all the big shoes, and pants and all that other shit," he said. "I learned a lot of disco is incorporated in rock 'n' roll. I learned how to write then, and on the weekends I'd go back to playing the rock 'n' roll."
Money was a shrewd thinker from the start, bridging the gap between college radio and top 40.
"I was the king of college radio," he said. "A lot of the critics were very smart, though. The records I would make were very storytelling and deep with heavy guitars. Then I'd have a track like 'Baby Hold On To Me' and it sounded nothing like the rest of the record. They figured I wasn't being a hundred percent. They'd say 'He always has a couple candy ass songs on his records.' Poppy songs. But I played both sides of the fence. I did it in San Francisco, and when I would go make a record I would decide to do the same thing."
The move has worked wonders for the singer/songwriter who has managed to straddle both commercial success with rock 'n' roll respect.
He's also done it without drugs or alcohol since 2001.
"People used to ask me how did you OD? — I said it was free," Money now says with a laugh. "I tell everybody I quit drinking and everybody is happy. Everybody but me," he joked again. "But even before I got sober, whenever I worked I never drank beforehand. I did my shows straight. I used to drink too much after, and smoke too many cigarettes, but I never stuck a needle in my arm. I never did percocets or vicodins. I did blow like everybody else did in the 80s. Nothing Huey Lewis wouldn't do."
Money's sense of humor runs deep. He's quick to tell a joke between nearly every question he's asked, and although he takes his performances and music still very seriously, a Bronx charm and candid honesty separates Money from many performers who emerged superstars from the decade of decadence.
Case in point, Money's ability to laugh at himself in an absolutely huge Geico advertising campaign. The spot features a family at the fictitious Eddie Money Travel Agency looking to book a vacation for four, while Money sings the chorus of "Two Tickets To Paradise" a-cappella.
Although everybody seemingly loved the commercial and it gave Money the sort of credibility with practically all audiences ranging from new age hipsters to grandmothers, the experience turned out a little rocky for the singer. Mostly because his wife was supposed to be in the bit and the producers left her performance on the editing room floor.
"Originally when I did it, it was a tape deck a little old lady was pushing the button on, and I'd sing along with the tape deck," Money said. "And this lady was a famous broadway actress, but I had to turn around and fire her and get my wife in the commercial. She gave me the dirtiest look! So anyways, it takes my wife like five hours to get ready to do this fucking commercial, and they used the last one I did which she wasn't even in. When people ask her what she thinks of it, she says 'He sounds pitchy!' She was so pissed."
Despite newfound success on the small screen, Money's passion is still very much in writing and performing. He's currently working on material for a new album, and his summer tour will jet set him across the United States.
"It's the same thing now performing as it was for me back then (in the 80s)," Money said. "I have a lot of great fans, and the music takes everybody back to a certain place and time. Guys used to tell me, 'Man I got so much pussy when your songs came on back in the day.' But I don't need to hear any of that. I'm just very, very happy to hear that they love the show. I can still sing the songs like I used to, and we got us a great band."
Visit eddiemoney.com for more information.
The Eddie Money/Ronnie Spector collaboration
"'Take Me Home Tonight' was such a bubblegum song, if I didn't get Ronnie Spector on it I would've never done it," Money said. "I called her up and I heard a bunch of clinking and clanking. She was doing the fucking dishes. So I told her to put the fucking dishes down and said we have a song called 'Take Me Home Tonight' that has a double chorus and we want her on it. It turned out great. But Phil Spector, who was in jail, he made sure she couldn't do it in concert. Can you imagine that? Not being able to do one of your biggest hits in concert? That's what a fucking prick he is. Phil Spector, controlling from the fucking death house!" — B.J. Lisko (article originally appeared in Youngstown Pulse Magazine, June 2013).