Interview By: Joseph Hett
Rocker Eddie Money recently spoke with Music Recall Magazine from his home in Malibu, CA. Check out MRM’s exclusive interview with Money below.
Eddie Money will be at the Newberry Opera House in Newberry, SC on Friday, December 20 at 8:00pm. The show is billed as an “Intimate Unplugged Show.”
Tickets are still available and can be purchased at newberryoperahouse.com, the Newberry Opera House box office or by calling (803) 276-6264.
MRM: Growing up, who were your musical influences?
Money: When I was growing up, I listened to a lot of James Brown, a lot of Otis Redding, of course, I liked John Lennon and the Beatles. Who didn’t listen to the Rolling Stones? But, I really liked Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, I thought they were really, really good. And, of course, I used to love the Young Rascals, who did that song “It’s A Beautiful Morning” and “Good Lovin’.” They were a really good, good band. And, then again, I was really listening to everything that was on the radio. You know, a lot of R&B—Sam & Dave, Martha & The Vandellas, The Supremes, The Jackson 5, of course, “ABC” was a great song. You know, I’ve had a lot of musical influences.
MRM: At what point did you learn to play the saxophone?
Money: Well, you know what, I graduated from high school, and then I went on to the police department, and then I quit the police department and went to California. And I just thought that—I saw David Bowie playing the saxophone, and I know that Van Morrison played the saxophone a little bit. And I just picked it up. I just thought it would be a fun instrument to play. Believe me, you know one thing about the saxophone—you can always get better. It’s like an instrument that you can always improve. When it comes to singing, even though I know my notes and stuff, I can’t get to be actually a better singer. Because I’ve been singing a long time, and I know exactly what people want to hear, and I try to do my best to sound like the record. You can always get better at the saxophone.
MRM: Can you tell us about your time with the New York City Police Department?
Money: I got thrown out of shop class in high school. I don’t know about you, but these shop class teachers use pressure points to get you the ground and squeeze your neck. When I grew up, some teachers were pretty tough. And I got thrown out of shop class. It took me like three years to make a salad bowl. And I was taking typing in high school. And then I went on to the police department because my brother was in Vietnam and my dad was a cop. So, I just thought that would be a good thing for me to do. And I ended up typing the roll calls because I took typing in high school. (When first at NYPD) They said can anybody type, and they looked around the room, and I was a police trainee. I said I could type. So, I wound up working 8 to 4 instead of working around the clock. Also, the other trainees had to work 8 to 4, 4 to 12, 12 to 8. But me, I was typing roll calls, so I worked days.
But, then the band moved out to California, and I quit the police department because I didn’t want to be in uniform for—I mean I liked the job, and the cops were great, but I didn’t want to be in uniform with short hair for the next 30 years of my life. You know? I wanted to be like the Beatles and Rolling Stones, I wanted to grow my hair long and date a lot of chicks and have a lot of have fun.
MRM: How did the legendary Bill Graham help your career in the beginning?
Money: Well, he was a great guy. I used to go to a lot of Bill Graham’s shows. He had Winterland, and he had the Carousel Ballroom, and he had the Fillmore. He was actually a concert promoter. So, I met him and actually got a record deal when I did a show called “Sounds Of The City,” which was an amateur night show in San Francisco. And I had already written “Two Tickets To Paradise,” “Baby Hold On,” “Everybody Rock ‘n’ Roll This Place” and “Wanna Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star.” We actually got a record deal off of a video cassette tape. I think I might have been the first artist in America to get a record deal off of a video cassette tape, which was amazing. And then, of course, I did Saturday Night Live, and I was on The Tonight Show, and I was on a lot of TV stuff. I had a very good career, a very good career. I was on the road with the Rolling Stones, I played the US Festival with 650,000 people. I’ve had my ups and downs. But, now I’m sober for about three and a half years. I quit smoking cigarettes, and I’ve still got my hair. So, I mean the shows are good. I love my fans. I give them 100%.
MRM: And that was with Columbia Records?
Money: It was Columbia Records, and my label was Wolfgang. Because Bill Graham’s real name was actually Wolfgang Grajonca. He was a Russian kid that actually walked to Paris with 500 kids, and 250 of them died on the way there from starvation. So, Bill Graham was actually a survivor of World War II, and he was a great guy. And we had a lot of fun.
MRM: When you signed with Columbia Records, did you expect the success you later would have?
Money: Well, you know, Columbia Records was a great label for me. It really was. We had a great time. After a while your fans get older. And they still keep coming to your shows, but they kind of stop buying your records. Once you put out—I’ve sold a lot of records, but once you put out your greatest hits record, then the records that you had that have the greatest hits on them, you know, you can’t sell those records anymore. You wind up just selling the greatest hits records, and before you know it, you aren’t making hit records anymore. When album sales are slow at times, you have to deal with everything.
I’ve got five kids still, they can be a pain in the ass at times. They all want to get in the record business. So, I’ve got to worry about their careers, I got to worry about my career, got to worry about the economy. I’ve got to jump on a treadmill…
MRM: Did you get a kick out of hearing your songs on the radio in the beginning?
Money: I’ll tell you the truth, when my record first came out, I was driving a ’62 Studebaker. And I only had AM radio. I didn’t have college radio—I didn’t have FM. So, when I first came out on the radio, I really didn’t hear myself a lot. I never had a good radio. When I was finally on FM radio, “Baby Hold On” was a big hit for me. And it was just a lot of fun to do the song. You know, I really felt good that God had blessed me and gave me a hit single on the radio, and it was really a lot of fun. It’s great to hear yourself on the radio.
MRM: Could you tell us how your music videos on early MTV helped contribute to your stardom?
Money: Well, if you think about it, me and Huey Lewis were one of the first artists to have rock and roll videos. My manager was very smart in the early ‘80s to think that this rock and roll TV was going to be a big thing. So, I made—we had “Shakin’” and “Think I’m In Love,” and we made videos for both of those songs. In those days I made two videos for $87,000, which was really—I mean it was amazing. And I was basically like the big star of MTV, which was amazing. It was a lot of fun. I got to do Saturday Night Live and meet John Belushi and Gilda Radner. It was very cool.
MRM: How did you approach Ronnie Spector to be featured in the song “Take Me Home Tonight?”
Money: Well, in the song it says, “Just like Ronnie sang” and it said, “Just like Ronnie sang, be my little baby.” I think that song was very successful because of that chorus in it. “Take me home tonight. I don’t want to let you go until you see the light,” and then it had “be my little baby” in it, which was a big hit that Ronnie Spector did (with the Ronettes). And I called her up, and I asked her if she wanted to be in the video and sing on the record. And she agreed. And we have been friends every since.
MRM: Could you tell us about your newest song “One More Soldier Coming Home?”
Money: I‘ve got to tell you, we donate a lot of the money to the Intrepid Fallen Hero Fund. Now the Intrepid Fallen Hero Fund is a nonprofit, charitable organization. And they are helping these kids coming back from head trauma injuries from Afghanistan, our troops coming back from Afghanistan. So, I am very happy about that, and we do everything we can to help the troops out.
MRM: Can you reflect on your infamous Geico commercial?
Money: [Laughs] Well, you know, my wife is a lot like Lucy, Ricky Ricardo’s wife, and she wanted to get back on television. And there was originally an old lady, who was a famous Broadway actress. She was about 75 years old, and she was pushing the button on the CD player, and I would start to sing “Two Tickets To Paradise.” By the way, that commercial is up for commercial of the year. It’s truly a funny commercial. And when we did the commercial, we wound up doing the last take a cappella, in other words we did it without the music. And my wife took the place of the old lady, and (my wife) was getting a pedicure and a manicure and getting her hair done and changing her clothes three and four times. And (my wife’s scenes) wound up on the editing room floor because they used the last commercial, which I sang without the music (no CD player present).
And (my wife) wasn’t too happy about that, she’s a real southern belle, she said, “Tim, he sounds pitchy.” Tim said, “She said (Money) sounds pitchy because she was pissed off because she didn’t get in the commercial.”
But, since that commercial, I’ve got to tell you, now I have to shave and wash my hair before I go to the supermarket. Because everyone wants a picture of me. And I really got a lot of great exposure because of the commercial. It was a lot of fun too.
MRM: What can fans expect in Newberry, SC when Eddie Money hits the stage on December 20?
Money: Well, I’ve got to tell you the truth. It’s going to be a lot of fun. And it’s going to be kind of an acoustic show. My voice sounds great. And it’s going to be kind of like a storyteller thing. I’m going to get out there and tell everybody why I wrote “Baby Hold On” and how “Two Tickets” came about and what “Walk On Water” was all about and why my wife was mad that she wasn’t in the video. And when I talk about the songs and we do the songs, it’s kind of like going to like storytellers. I hope everyone comes down to the show because you will learn a lot about the history of the music itself.