This story is featured in the July issue of 519 Magazine, which can be picked up at more than 200 locations in Windsor-Essex, Chatham, Leamington, Sarnia and London.
Pop-Rocker Eddie Money has been cranking out hit music since the mid-70s with chart topping-hits like Two Tickets To Paradise, Take Me Home Tonight, Baby Hold On and I Wanna Go Back among others. The rocker now stars in a television show with his family on AXS TV called Real Money and he’s headlining Bluesfest Windsor on Saturday, July 14 at Riverfront Plaza. Eddie sat down for a chat with 519 Magazine and YQG Rocks, telling us the Windsor show will be like an awesome vacation for his wife and him.
Does that song still mean the same to you today as it did when you wrote it?
Every time I sing “I’ve got two tickets to paradise” it’s something special for me. I mean, music is a very nostalgic vehicle – it can really bring people back. I can take people back to a certain place and time in their life. It’s the same with “Baby Hold On”, “Shakin’” or “I Wanna Go Back”. I’m not a very religious guy, but I know God has been very good to me. I just appreciate the fact that I’m still around and have a lot of great hits to sing – it makes a lot of people pretty happy, you know.
Is the Paradise from when you wrote that song different from the Paradise that you might know now?
Everybody wanted two tickets to paradise when I wrote the song. Looking back, I was probably thinking of going to Hawaii or Bermuda or someplace place really hot and gorgeous. My mother, God rest her soul, used to say to me ‘Eddie it’s not the state, it’s the state of mind!’ You know two tickets to Paradise could be a bus ride to Northern California in the Redwood section or it could be something bigger. It’s anything to anybody. I mean if you had two tickets to paradise, where would you go?
I think I’d want to go to Australia.
There you go. You know that’s a very good idea. I had a great time in Australia, it’s a great country. You’d have so much fun over there. You have to go there now!
It’s still on my bucket list, but for now, I’m happy in Windsor.
Right on! Well, the show’s going to be great up there in Windsor. I called the promoter down there and I guess he didn’t know who Eddie Money was and he said to me on the phone ‘Oh are you Eddie Money?’ I said ‘yes it is’. He said ‘do you realize you have a guest list bigger than the Rolling Stones?’ That’s because we’ve got a lot of friends there and it’s going to be a great show.
Have you ever been to Windsor? I know you’ve been to Detroit.
You know I envy you guys because you’ve got a way better national anthem to sing. O Canada is such a beautiful song. When I do hockey games up there and sing the Canadian anthem, it’s pretty exciting for me because it’s just a beautiful song – it really is. It’s amazing how many records I’ve sold up there and how many relationships that I kept up from Calgary to Toronto and from Montreal to Windsor. I’m very excited about playing there because I’ve got about 15 people on the guest list just from Windsor that are very good friends of my wife and me. I don’t drink anymore, so the Eddie Money show is kind of like life with Betty Ford at times. I’m not sure if you’re a girl that likes to knock down a bevi every now and then, but there’s nothing better than that Canadian Beer. I would die for that beer.
Next year you’ll have been married to Laurie for 30 years. Any big plans?
We got married down in Mexico in a civic ceremony, but what I really want to do is turn it around and get married in a church. I want to get married with God as my witness. That’s what I really want do. She’s just awesome and she looks great. She’s number one in her spin class; she doesn’t eat red meat, but she’s not a vegetarian and she’s doing really well in everything as everyone gets to see on the TV show.
You come from a family of New York cops. How did you decide to change your career and become a singer?
I was in a rock band in high school, but they moved out to California and I stayed in New York because my brother was in Vietnam at the time. He was in the Marine Corps so my father said to me ‘Why don’t you join the police department?’ My dad was a good cop all his life and I went to the police department to basically help people like he did. You know my father never gave any black people tickets because he didn’t think it was fair and he thought they never had enough money to pay the tickets. When I thought about it, I couldn’t see myself in a police force for 20 years with short hair, working around the clock like that. So my band moved out to California and they said I had to come out and sing for them. I quit the police department, moved to California and eventually ended up getting a record deal from Columbia Records and Bill Graham.
What are you like as a performer now?
I want it to sound like it was meant to be – you know, just like on the radio. That’s how good we’re going to be when we come to Canada. To tell you the truth, my wife and I are more excited about this show than any other show this summer. That show in Windsor is going to be the highlight of my summer – seriously, it’s the highlight of my summer.
I know there are a lot of singers from your era that lost their vocal abilities over the years and struggle to sing. What’s your secret?
I took vocal lesions from a lady named Judy Davis – she taught Judy Garland how to sing; she taught Frank Sinatra how to sing, as well as Sammy Davis Jr., Barbra Streisand and a whole bunch of singers. She was a great vocal coach. She always told me that cigarettes, marijuana and especially alcohol, are really bad for your voice. I took a lot of it back then, but I’ve taken less now for about four years. You really have to take care of your voice. You can’t be out there screaming. Your voice is a gift from God and I do everything I can to take care of it. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke cigarettes, I don’t smoke marijuana, I try to eat the right foods and I go to church on Sunday.
Have you ever looked back at some of your recordings where you were singing in a higher key and think why did I sing so high?
Actually to tell you the truth, I have to say I really feel good about this. I don’t sound much different than my last album – I’m down maybe a half a step at the most. I have my vocal coach and sobriety to thank for that, you know.
Your kids are kind of following in your footsteps with music. Do you watch and try and help them not go through the hard things that you went through. Do you help them in that way?
Well you know, I think they’re a lot smarter than I was when I was coming up. I went through a lot of drinking, smoking pot late at night and stuff like that, but the kids are a lot smarter than I was.
So what helped you through your recovery from those addictions?
I’ve been completely sober about 10 years, but before that I never used to get loaded. I was never like a Jim Morrison or guys like that though, because my job is very important to me and means the world to me. Back in those days I did some shows that weren’t as good as they should have been, but most of the time in my career I’ve always aimed do my shows pretty straight. My audience has always been very important to me. I want to make sure that when people see the Eddie Money show, they really do enjoy it and have a good time. I hope you’ll feel the same way when you see the show.
Tickets to Eddie Money and Bluesfest Windsor will available at the gate.