Eddie Money,
The TVD Interview

Add Eddie Money to the long list of rockers, from Ozzy Osbourne to Bret Michaels and Joe Jonas, to open their homes to reality TV crews. His new series Real Money, premiering April 8 on AXS TV—already home to Rock & Roll Road Trip with Sammy Hagar—chronicles life with his grown kids, who are also members of his backing band when he tours.

Money, at 68, is still getting mileage out of a string of hits in the 1970s and 1980s. He talked about the origins of hits like “Baby Hold On,” and “Two Tickets to Paradise” in a recent interview from Malibu. A long time Californian, he still retains his Brooklyn roots—mostly through a string of Rodney Dangerfield-like jokes that have been largely excised here for space and sanity.

“I’m sorry I sniffed all that airplane glue, I’m trying to give you good interview,” he began, before a conversation that told of his early days, a legal threat from Doris Day, touring with the Stones, and angering Sting.

Along the way, he took credit for everything from bringing Ronnie Spector back to show business, to being the first rocker to play the daytime TV circuit and the first guy to spray festival crowds with water. And he had a few choice words about Elvis Costello and Lou Gramm.

He concluded by declaring “I lied my way to the top!” in the manner of another ambitious borough-native, so baby hold on to that grain of salt.

Now you’re a reality TV star.

I gotta tell you, I’m very excited about the TV show. For some reason, it came out good, it’s funny, the kids are good. We’ll keep our fingers crossed. If we get a second season, it’d be good.

How many episodes have you done?

Ten. We shot a lot of it at the house until the neighbors got pissed off. So we shot it all over the place, in certain clubs and out on the road. They had me horseback riding, which is horrible. Hated that. And then they had me playing golf, and I play golf like Stevie Wonder at night, so I don’t know what good that episode was.

Do you think the series is going to bring new people to your shows?

I’ve got enough people out in my audience. I’ve got a lot of kids who grew up with their parents putting me in the tape deck. All these kids grew up listening to “Baby Hold On” and “Take Me Home Tonight.”

I get people at the shows who are in their early 20s, I got parents coming to the shows. We do have a pretty large following. You gotta remember, I was putting records out in 1976, I’ve got people listening to me who are in their 70s right now that still come to the Eddie Money show. Sometimes I have people asking the promoters if they have a wheelchair rack.

How many dates do you do a year now?

I’ve got five kids, so I’ll do anything to get out of the house. What I do is I try to work every weekend if I can, because I like to get Dez out there. I want to promote Dez’s music, and I’m not just saying this because he’s my kid, but he’s a great songwriter. He doesn’t sound like me, but the songwriting quality I think he’s a chip off the old block.

It’s a brave thing to do one of these shows and show everybody your family life.

Well, the kids—nobody’s got DUIs, nobody’s doing drugs or anything else like that. I feel fortunate enough, and of course all the kids are still living at home. But that doesn’t bother me either. I like having the kids living at home because I can keep an eye on them.

I’d rather have them in front of me, rather than being in someone’s car, or somebody else’s house until 4 in the morning. This way, I know when they’re going to bed, when they’re getting up, and somebody’s going to have to take out the garbage and do the dishes. I’m very happy.

You succeeded in getting them all involved. Even when Ozzy was doing his show, not all his kids agreed to be on it.

Joe was very smart—he’s Eddie Money Jr. He writes this dubstep music, this electronic dance music. And I took him down to Florida, and we went into this club where they were playing electronic dance music, and I couldn’t believe how popular he was. The kids really loved it. They had all these lights flashing on and off and stuff. So I’m very proud of him.

Then of course, Dez Money. He’s got a pretty promising career ahead of him. Of course, as you know, nobody sells records anymore. I mean, Tower Records is closed, Zebra Records is closed, Peaches Records is closed. Now they’re not even putting CD players in cars anymore. Everything is email. If you want to do something you email the song to somebody and the next thing you know you’ve got 10,000 people listening to it.

How does that all affect an artist like yourself?

You know what they say, “video killed the radio star.” Well, that’s true, but the internet has killed the recording star. I mean, the only way Dez was going to make any money out there is to come out with me and go a month on the road and do his own material and have kids get used to him.

He’s a good-looking kid, he’s got my son Julian playing drums for him, he’s an excellent drummer. And Jessica, let me tell you, she’s like Janis Joplin 2017 without the vodka. She looks great on stage and she’s a lot of fun to be with.

I guess musicians have to get all their money from the road these days.

For me, I’ve always said, even before Bill Graham signed me, I’ve always been a bit of a road dog. I was popular in Bay Area, then we moved down California. But I always been a workhorse. That’s why I’m doing this interview with you. I’m doing everything I can to help the kids out with this TV show.

This is the 50th anniversary of you becoming a full-time musician. What were those days like?

Well, I’ll tell ya, when I was on the police department, my father was patrolman of the year and I started out as a police trainee. And my captain, like a lot of captains in the police department, was a stone cold alcoholic, and he had a son who was in a rock band. So the captain, when I was working in the 13th precinct, let me grow my hair longer than my father wanted my hair to be. My father, you could have fried an egg on his head.

So I quit the police department, and moved out to California. I couldn’t really see myself in a uniform like my dad, working around the clock, being really grumpy. I couldn’t see myself in a police uniform with short hair for the next 20 years of my life. I went to college, and then I got a record deal with Bill Graham. And I also got a good lottery number, so I wasn’t going to get drafted. My lottery number was like 264, so I said, “See you later.” As soon as I got the lottery number, naturally I quit school!

Was it that quick that you got signed?

I was in a rock band in high school. And if you wanted to date the cheerleaders in high school, and you were too skinny to be on the football team, be in a rock band in high school. So I was in a rock band in high school. And what happened was, the band that I was with, they moved out to California. I went on the police department and they kept saying, “Eddie, come out man, we need you! We’re going to get a record deal,” — which they never got, by the way.

I quit the police department, moved out to California, and then I actually got a record deal with Bill Graham. I did a show called “Sounds of the City,” which was like amateur night up in Winterland. I already had “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Baby Hold On,” and the next thing I know, I got a record deal.

They had me on “Saturday Night Live,” I was on the Merv Griffin, I did Mike Douglas, I did Dinah Shore. I was the first rock star to do daytime TV. Then I went on tour with Rolling Stones, and with The Who, and with Steve Miller, and with Fleetwood Mac. I mean, Bill Graham was a great manager. Unfortunately he died in that helicopter accident. He was like a second dad for me.

I’ve had a long and prosperous career. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. I had about 14 songs in the Top 100. We had “Baby Hold On,” “Take Me Home Tonight,” “Think I’m In Love,” “I Wanna Go Back,” “Two Tickets to Paradise,” “Shakin.’” I was blessed with a lot of hits. Which really helped me out a lot.

Did you write all of those songs?

I wrote a lot of them. I didn’t write “Take Me Home Tonight,” but I wrote a lot of the tunes. I wrote “Baby Hold On,” I wrote “Shakin,’” I wrote “Two Tickets to Paradise.”

Let’s talk about that one. How did that one come to be?

I wanted to take a girlfriend of mine someplace—to Hawaii or Bermuda, and I never had any money. So you know what I said to her, I said, “I want to take a bus ride up to the redwoods, and see the redwoods.” By that time, she was going with somebody who had a lot more money and we broke up.

But “Two Tickets to Paradise” was about two tickets to anywhere. Anywhere, except for your son’s soccer game when he’s 11 years old. You don’t want two tickets to go to your son’s soccer games. Though I’ve been at those soccer games. I’m sure you have too.

And “Baby Hold On”?

When I wrote “Two Tickets to Paradise,” they did not think it was commercial enough to get on to AM radio. So I turned around and wrote “Baby, Hold On to Me.” It was after I saw that show with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and they had that song “Que Sera, Sera” in it. [Sings:] Que, sera, sera, whatever will be, will be / The future’s not ours to see, Baby hold on to me…

Actually, Doris Day sent a lawyer to my house and told me they wanted to sue me over that song. I hadn’t combed my hair in three days and I was in the bathroom going, “Who the hell is Doris Day? What the hell you talking about?” But yeah, Doris Day tried to sue me, saying that “Baby Hold On” was actually “Que Sera, Sera.” Naturally, I denied it, but she was right.

“Take Me Home Tonight” was something someone else wrote.

The reason I did “Take Me Home Tonight,” is, like Brian Wilson, his and my favorite song of all time is “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes. To this day, it’s one of my favorite tunes—just like Brian Wilson. I had the opportunity to do this song that had in its chorus “Be my little baby.” When I heard that, I said, “This song is about Ronnie Spector!”

So I got hold of Ronnie’s number and I called her up on the phone and said, “I’m Eddie Money.” She said, “Oh, I love that song ‘Two Tickets to Paradise.’” I said, “Ronnie what are you doing?” I’m hearing all this clinking and clanking in the background. She says, “I’m married and I’m not in the business any more. I’ve got a couple of kids, I’m doing the dishes.”

I said there’s this song, “Take Me Home Tonight,” and the second chorus in the song is your song, “Be My Little Baby,” would you like to come out and be in the video? So she came out, she got her hair done, she got her high heels on, and she came back and did “Be my little baby.”

And she got the bug back, man. All of a sudden, she wanted to go out on the road. Now, I run into Ronnie all the time. She’s out on the road, we see each other constantly, and I’m the one that got her back into the business. She’s a great vocalist, and you’re not going to meet more of a sweetheart of a girl. She was fantastic.

Are you recording anything?

I got a song called “It’s a Brand New Day,” which is a fantastic tune. And Waddy Wachtel, who’s been playing with Joe Walsh, and now he’s playing with Stevie Nicks, and he played on all the Keith Richards albums. Waddy and I are real good friends and we’ve been writing a bunch of songs together.

What else did you listen to growing up, in addition to the Ronettes?

I used to like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, but I really liked The Young Rascals, Felix Cavaliere. I used to listen to a lot of Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the Detroit stuff, I was into that. Then I listened to a lot of Otis Redding, I listened to a lot of James Brown. I was pretty much an R&B singer when I was coming up, you know.

The Detroit audiences have reciprocated your affection. You still open the local amphitheater there every summer for more than 20 years.

I tell you, when I go to Detroit, and have Anita Baker in the audience or Kid Rock in the audience, or Mark Farner and the guys from Grand Funk Railroad. I’ve got Bob Seger coming to my shows. For some reason, they love Eddie Money in Michigan; they aways have, I don’t know what it is about it.

Do you listen to vinyl?

Nobody in the world misses vinyl more than me. Nobody. I don’t care who it is. I can’t get a needle anywhere. To me, forget about CDs, forget about cassettes, there’s nothing warmer than listening to a record with a needle and a good sound system, man. Nothing.

I don’t know where I’m going to get a diamond needle. I can’t get none of that stuff. You know what, I was really into it, but I gave up on it. A lot of my old records for some reason, they’re scratched. You know me, I could have played those records till I was going to drop dead. What I’m thinking of doing on my birthday, I’m going to ask the kids. We have a record player right now, I’m going to start buying vinyl. But if I get an old Eddie Money record, can I buy it? Is it going to be an old record or is it going to be a new record?

Are they reissuing your stuff on vinyl?

I don’t think they are, no. But I’d love to see that. To hear a Led Zeppelin album on vinyl, or a Beatle album on vinyl, or a Tom Petty album on vinyl, that’s the way to go.

What was it like to tour with the Stones and the Who?

I’ll tell you the truth. I was in awe of the Rolling Stones, because they were really big in ’63, ’64. You gotta remember I was in a rock band in high school that did “Get Off My Cloud” and “19th Nervous Breakdown” and stuff like that. I was a huge Stones fan. And when I went on the road with them and got to meet them, what I loved about the Rolling Stones is they were just nice guys. Mick Jagger turned around and took a picture of me and him together. Keith Richards was super nice to me. And to meet people you were in awe of, you find they were just musicians like yourself. They were like regular kinds of musicians.

Like I met Page and Plant, we were in Memphis, Tennessee, at a place called Lansky’s, where Elvis Presley used to get all his shirts made, the ones with the big collars. I met Page and Plant in there and I said, “I saw you guys when you opened for Country Joe & The Fish at the Carousel Ballroom in 1969 and you played everything the way the record was going to sound when it came out.” I mean, “Communication Breakdown,” they did “The Hunter” [“How Many More Times”].

I said to them, “I was so impressed when I saw you guys, and then when the record came out three weeks later, it sounded like the same.” They said, “That’s when we broke in the United States, when Bill Graham had us in San Francisco, opening up for Country Joe & The Fish, and we did four nights in a row, that broke us in the States.”

They had us backstage after their show. And meeting Page and Plant, or meeting the Rolling Stones, the greatest thing about meeting those guys is that they were really cool musicians. It’s like talking to you. They were in the business. They were really nice. The one thing about being with all these super famous guys was they were really cool people.

As opposed to Elvis Costello, who was one of the biggest assholes you’d ever want to meet in the world. Or when Lou Gramm was singing with Foreigner, he was the biggest prick you’d ever want to meet. Now he’s the nicest guy in the world.

[Shout in background: Dad!]

Everybody’s telling me to shut up now. You got to remember, I’m not in charge any more. But meeting Plant and Page, and meeting the Stones, I loved it, because it was just like talking to Huey Lewis. Just cool dudes man.

You also remind people in the first episode of Real Money that you were at the US Festival in 1982, before a crowd of hundreds of thousands.

Yeah, I was on the US Festival with the Police, which was really fantastic. I remember Sting was about nine cars behind me, it was on dirt road, and he was saying, “What’s holding everybody up up there?” Well, they said to him, “Eddie Money just left his car; he went to get a hot dog.” I was starving to death, so I got out of my car to get a hot dog, and Sting’s going, “What the hell’s going on up there?” “Eddie Money got out of his car, he’s getting a hot dog.” He was like, “Who?”

But you know what, the US Festival was fantastic. The thing I was worried about, I told Bill, what are we going to do? It’s in the middle of the afternoon, and we had that song “Gimme Some Water.” I said “Bill, I got a great idea. Why don’t we spray the crowd with light water in the middle of “Gimme Some Water,” during the instrumental?” He said, that’s a great idea. So we sprayed everybody with the water during “Gimme Some Water.” I mean, we’re talking about 650,000 people out there. It’s a fantastic idea.

And they still do that in big outdoor concerts. You may have started the trend.

I think I did start the whole thing. It was a lot of fun, though.

The only thing is that the US Festival, it was 650,000 people out there, but I only had three boxes of shirts. I didn’t know that much about merchandising in those days…

Real Money premieres April 8, 2018 on AXS TV.

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