Updated: Sep 16, 2019
This is not going to be your standard, run-of-the-mill tribute. I won't be citing Wiki-facts or spouting on about Eddie Money's vast catalog of mega-hits. There will be no chronological depiction of his life's events. There will be plenty of those circulating the Internet over the coming days, and rightfully so.
This is my account of the man, the musician, and the humanitarian as I got to know him through interviews and professional encounters over the course of 5 years.
These are my stories and my personal observations.
Aside from being a life-long fan, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Eddie between 2010 and 2015. I was a Sr. Staff Writer for an international pop culture website back in 2010 when I first interviewed him by phone. He was at his home in Florida on that day taking calls from radio stations all over the country who were reaching out to wish him a Happy Birthday on-air. He was irritated by the fact that Wikipedia had posted his birthday incorrectly and he was now dealing with having to explain to dozens of callers that it was not, in fact, his birthday at all. After a rather comical rant of expletives, he settled down a bit, took it in stride and began to talk.
Eddie could talk for hours about anything and everything. He was an open book and his stream of consciousness was like a runaway train.
He was one of my favorite people to interview because he was so unabashedly candid. I conducted a total of 4 interviews with him over those years and he was always happy to talk openly about his kids, the projects he was working on, the music he was making, and the soldiers. Eddie felt a very authentic devotion to our military men and women. I remember sitting on his tour bus before a show one night and he told me how excited he was about a new song he was working on called "One More Soldier." It was based on a story he had heard and it resonated so strongly with him that he wanted to solidify it with his own musical stamp. He told me that 100% of the profits from the song, along with some of the merchandising revenue, would be donated to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund which provides support for the families of fallen military personnel lost in service to our nation and to severely wounded veterans. He later gave me a t-shirt with the song's title on it, signed "To Jen. Love ya! Eddie."
One of my most treasured keepsakes.
The thing that was most notable about Eddie for me was his blatant honesty. The man had no filter. He was funny too. It was the kind of humor that came without effort. He was just being Eddie. One evening in Schaumburg IL, my photographer and I were on the bus before he was about to go on stage. There were about 3000 people on the lawn in pouring rain waiting to see him. When we first entered the bus, I could hear the echoes of his saxophone in the back as he was warming up. Wow, I thought. That sound. Unmistakable. Surreal.
It never got old.
Eddie eventually emerged and said, "Hi doll. What are we talking about today?"
"Anything you want, Eddie," I said.
"Ok," he said. "Then lets talk about the fact that I've been sober for so many years that I'm the only guy on the tour not having any fuc**ing fun!" He then said, "C'mon let's get a picture together. Come stand next to me, honey. You look better standing than sitting."
Alright then. That was Eddie's raw, unapologetic demeanor. And I loved it.
As I stood up and went over to him for a photo, he put his arm around my shoulder, looked me in the eye sadly and whispered, "I'm sorry I got old."
It hit me like a two-ton brick.
"We've all gotten older, Eddie," I said. "There's 3000 people sitting out there in the pouring rain waiting to hear you sing. They don't care. They're older too. Your music is ageless. Don't you see?"
"I guess you're right," he said.
He brought the house down that night. I think he did two or three encores. As he ran off the stage, I handed him a bottle of water and said, "Was I right?"
"Yea, you were right," he said.
There was often an air of sad reminiscence surrounding Eddie. He longed for the good ol' days. That's why the song "I Wanna Go Back" always made me a bit sad because I witnessed first hand how much that sentiment resonated with him. He wore that song like a heavy trench coat.
He had an almost childlike innocence about him and never took his talent for granted. I'm not even certain he was fully aware of his impact on people or the music business itself. After his show at Chicago's House of Blues, he ran offstage and down the hall where I met him head on. As he approached, he said "How was I? How was the show?"
"How were you? Are you kidding? You're Eddie fu*king Money. You were awesome!!" I said.
And he was.
At one point during the show, he brought up a young gentleman in the military who wanted to propose to his girlfriend during the show. We met him backstage beforehand where he dressed into his military uniform. He was so excited. That, for Eddie, was the highlight of the night. The audience went crazy as the young man's girlfriend accepted his proposal.
That's what it was about for Eddie. He loved the connection to his fans and seized every chance to incorporate his devotion to the military men and women who serve our country. He never passed up an opportunity to showcase his appreciation for them while encouraging others to do the same. (I should also mention that his other charitable efforts went to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation. He stressed emphatically how important the kids were to him.)
I never got the impression that Eddie had to work at this point. I think he would have gone crazy NOT working. It was all he knew. As tiring as the grind of touring could be, and he toured constantly, I don't think he could see himself doing anything else. He needed that connection to his fans. He needed to stay busy. Music was his lifeline. Always.
And the band played on, right up until health issues earlier this year prevented Eddie from going any further. Although I hadn't spoken to or seen him in recent years, I would put some hard-earned dollars on the fact that he had a few projects under way and had no plans to step out of the spotlight.
And he never stopped writing songs.
The fact is, Eddie Money's passing has put a crater-sized gap in an era of classic rock & roll. A time when an ex-cop trainee from New York City could pick up a saxophone and hit the road with his band and play for the love of the music. And that music resonated and played on through 3 generations of fans who were Shakin' and snappin' their fingers all the way home.
Eddie Money lived and breathed rock & roll. So I'll close out my humble tribute with this picture. A picture Eddie signed for my kids which read "Rock & Roll'. Love, Eddie Money."
He then told me to make sure and tell them to keep it alive.
We will, Eddie.
We will, indeed. Along with your memory.
That's my Two Sense.