Eddie Money was an American rock singer-songwriter and musician who attained fame during the 70s and the 80s oldies music era. He was in the same vein as his contemporary Bruce Springsteen – “everyday guy” persona, formidable vocals and catchy songs.
Eddie Money’s songs have become the staples of classic rock and still wield a great deal of appeal, even to the newer generation of rock music fans.
The former cop-turned-rock star is known for a string of Top 40 and rock chart hits such as “Take Me Home Tonight,” “Walk on Water,” “Baby Hold On” and “Two Tickets to Paradise,” among many others.
Early life and career
Eddie Money was born Edward Joseph Mahoney on March 21, 1949 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York. He came from a large Irish Catholic family.
His family had been involved in law enforcement, and it seemed that Money was destined to follow their footsteps. While still a cop working for the New York City Police, he was already performing in rock bands at various city clubs during the evening under the stage name “Eddie Money.” He soon quit the police force to pursue a musical career. In 1968 he moved to Berkeley, California to try his luck.
He continued to perform regularly at several clubs in the Bay Area until he caught the eye of the legendary music promoter and impresario Bill Graham (1931-1991), who is credited for building Money’s early career. It was Graham who helped Money to secure his first recording contract with Columbia Records, which released his self-titled debut album in 1977.
On the way to rock stardom
His first album, Eddie Money, yielded two Billboard Hot 100 singles “Baby Hold On” (#11) and “Two Tickets to Paradise” (#22). His cover of The Miracles’ “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” (which is most famously covered by the Beatles) also reached the Billboard Hot 100 at #72. The album itself peaked at #37 on the Billboard 200 – not bad for the fledgling musician.
Eddie Money was quickly followed by Life for the Taking (1978) which produced comparatively modest chart hits such as “Maybe I’m a Fool” (#22, pop) and “Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” (#63, pop). His third album, Playing for Keeps (1980) was also a modest success.
The MTV launched during the early 1980s and Eddie Money quickly capitalized on the growing trend by releasing humorous promotional videos of the singles “Think I’m in Love” and “Shakin’”.
“Think I’m in Love” peaked at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Billboard rock music chart. “Shakin’” peaked at #63 on the Hot 100. Both tracks were also included on Money’s fourth studio album No Control.
Like many rock stars, Money endured dark times. He fell into troubles when his fifth album Where’s the Party? (1983) flopped and he began to struggle with drug addiction.
However, Money bounced back in 1986 with his album Can’t Hold Back, which would reinstate him into the mainstream rock spotlight. It contained the lead single “Take Me Home Tonight.” Its chorus interpolates the Ronettes 1963 hit “Be My Baby” and features Money’s duet with the Ronettes’ original vocalist Ronnie Spector.
“Take Me Home Tonight” became a great success, peaking at #4 on the Hot 100 and topping the rock singles chart. It also became Money’s biggest hit single of his career.
The follow-up singles, which were also tracks in Can’t Hold Back, did well on the pop charts: “I Wanna Go Back” at #14 and “Endless Nights” at #21. Can’t Hold Back reached platinum status in 1987, becoming one of Money’s most successful albums.
After Can’t Hold Back, Money released a new album Nothing to Lose (1988) which yielded another big hit “Walk on Water.” It peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on the Billboard rock music chart. It was followed by “The Love in Your Eyes” which became a modest Top 40 hit.
Money released his first compilation album Greatest Hits: The Sound of Money in 1989. Apart from the biggest hits of his career, it also contained three previously unreleased songs which included “Peace in Our Time.” Released also as a single, “Peace in Our Time” became a certified Top 20 pop hit, reaching at #11.
Around this time also, Money married Laurie Harris, with whom he had five children. The couple would stay married for 30 years.
Later life and career
After Money’s career peaked during the 1980s, his popularity and commercial recording success began to ease down. His 1991 album Right Here (1991) and 1992 EP “Unplug It In” were ignored as rock audience’s tastes started to shift towards sub-genres — notably alternative rock, which was growing in popularity at the time.
After Columbia finally let him go, Money would spend the remainder of his career touring the oldies circuit. However, he managed to churn out a considerable number of new recordings, such as 2007’s Wanna Go Back which features covers of the 1960s hits, and his final studio album Brand New Day in 2019.
Money also dabbled in areas other than music. He appeared one time on an episode of the CBS sitcom The King of Queens in 2002, playing as himself. He and his family starred in their own reality show Real Money, which debuted on the AXS channel in 2018.
Since the late 2000’s, a slew of Eddie Money reissues and compilations has been released by several different labels.
Pneumonia forced Money to cancel his summer tour in July 2019. Around this time also, his latest studio album Brand New Day was released; it was also to be his final recording.
On August 19, 2019, Money shocked the music world by revealing that he was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer. While he was candid about the cancer diagnosis on his reality show Real Money, he admitted that he was “surprised” by the news. He had a long history of smoking and drug addiction, but he came out successfully from a treatment in 2001 and had been “clean” ever since.
But barely three weeks after the diagnosis, Money died at his home in California on September 13, 2019, aged 70. He was survived by his wife Laurie and their five children.
The rock legend’s death shocked and saddened his family, fans, friends, supporters, fellow celebrities and contemporaries as well as other people who worked with him in the past. They paid emotional tributes to Money in appreciation to his inestimable contribution and legacy, which already ensured him a lofty place in the history of rock.