For many in Northeast Ohio, their first exposure to Eddie Money was from listening to Cleveland’s WMMS. In the station’s heyday, it was known for breaking artists such as David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen, and Money’s brand of catchy blue-collar rock 'n' roll connected with area audiences.
The station, and particularly DJ Kid Leo, championed Money’s music from the start in the late 1970s. The singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has now been a staple on classic rock radio stations for more than 30 years.
Money plays two shows, at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., tonight at the Kent Stage.
His self-titled debut album was released in 1977, and included the big hits Two Tickets to Paradise and Baby Hold On. With the release of his third record, 1983’s No Control, he was encouraged to embrace the video revolution. The music videos for Shakin’ and Think I’m in Love, which now seem charmingly quaint, were in heavy rotation on the then-new MTV.
Money admits the video channel had a huge impact. “Suddenly I’m on Saturday Night Live, the Midnight Special, and all over MTV,” Money said. “The New York Times once said that ‘to be on MTV it seems you have to be Eddie Money.’ I think I looked like a singing shoe salesman.”
Money, born Edward Mahoney in Brooklyn, NY, in 1949, originally planned to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue a career as a New York City policeman. “I was the only one who raised their hand when they asked if anyone could type, so I got the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift typing up roll calls, which meant I could keep my band alive at night.”
Money had the rock 'n' roll fever, and realized he had to pursue the dream. He moved to Berkeley, CA, and started playing area clubs.
“We played an amateur night at Winterland in San Francisco, and I had the show videotaped,” Money explained. “I had all of my friends crowd around the stage to make the place look like it was packed.”
Money caught the attention of legendary promoter Bill Graham, who signed on as his manager. A record deal with Columbia soon followed. “I think we were the first band signed because of a videocassette,” Money said.
Eddie Money probably could’ve had a great career as a stand-up comic. The singer-songwriter has a natural ability to tell funny tales, with a self-deprecating candor that is truly engaging. He’s so good at it – with his raspy, Brooklyn rat-a-tat-tat delivery — that Graham, who died in 1991, had to tell him to cut back on the jokes in concert and focus on the music.
In the early 1980s, Money was living the fast life, and it began to take its toll, as he struggled with alcohol and drug addiction. “At one point I was making $75,000 for a 75-minute show,” Money said chuckling. “I probably should’ve saved the money.”
Despite some of his troubles, Money maintained his sense of humor. “I played the US Festival in 1982,” he said, referring to one of the country’s largest-ever outdoor concerts. “I had only three boxes of T-shirts to sell. Who knew?”
Money scored a huge comeback in 1986, with Take Me Home Tonight from the Can’t Hold Back album. The song features a memorable refrain from Ronnie Spector, who is referred to in the lyrics. “Originally I was going to have my friend Martha Davis of the Motels do the part,” Money said. “But when we were in the studio, I decided to see if Ronnie would be willing to do it.”
Money maintains a strong bond with those who serve in the safety forces as well as veterans. His newest song, One More Soldier Coming Home, will be released on May 24 on iTunes, with all of the proceeds going to charities serving the families of those who lost their lives serving the country.
Money, who has been clean and sober for years, maintains a busy concert schedule, often playing eight to 10 times a month. “I have five kids, and I gotta get out the house,” Money said with a laugh. He has four sons and a daughter Jesse, who often performs with him. She was originally slated to perform at the Kent show but had to cancel at the last minute.
Money marvels at the diversity of his audiences nowadays, which include baby boomers, young adults, families, bikers and “Ed-Heads” – his hardcore fans. “It’s really something to see a 7- or 8-year-old kid singing along to your songs,” Money said.
Reserved seats are $27 ($37 for Gold Circle seating), and will be available at the door. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the early show, and at 9 p.m. for the later performance.