Rock music songwriter & performer Eddie Money died of esophageal cancer on September 13, 2019. He was age 70, and still performed until his recent late-stage diagnosis, which turned out to be terminal.
If you look on my “Influences” page, you’ll three paragraphs of artists, which ends with “and hundreds more…” Eddie Money is among those hundreds more for me. The hardest thing to do in rock music is write a song that kids want to hear over & over. I’m talking about a song that hits you immediately, and gets you excited. Eddie Money did that for a decade, and that ain’t easy folks.
His eponymous debut album came out in 1977 and the first cut, “Two Tickets to Paradise” catapulted him to stardom– becoming his signature hit. Eddie Money came from classic rock, as this dinosaur genre was being overtaken by punk, funk & disco, then later post-punk & new wave. “The Money Man” earned his name because he could deliver the goods, meaning at least one or two solid singles per album, and he showed an adaptability most classic rockers disdained. This is what kept him relevant into the 1980’s, as others of his era faded away.
Eddie Money lived up to his name, by signing with CBS records and being placed on their prestigious Columbia label, instead of their second-tier Epic label. Bands on Epic from the classic rock era include the Yardbirds, Sly & the Family Stone, REO Speedwagon, Boston, Heart, the Clash & Cheap Trick to name a few of the best known. Epic artists never got the publicity, promotion & distribution that Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, et al got on Columbia.
With this said, Eddie Money was an original rocker who never fit neatly into the classic rock or MTV era, yet was able to carve out a niche for himself. Robert Palmer is often viewed as his best comparable, but Eddie Money was a better songwriter, making deeper albums. Robert Palmer had a better look for the 1980’s, which made him seem bigger (“Simply Irresistible”) at the time. But in retrospect, it’s the songs that endure, which is why Eddie Money’s star shines brighter today.
No Control (1982) is my favorite Eddie Money album, with his debut being runner-up. Can’t Hold Back (1986) was his swan song. On those records, and a few others, you’ll find songs you recognize from the radio, television or movies– while also discovering hidden gems. Just because a song isn’t a hit, doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. That’s how it works with a real songwriter, like Eddie Money.
Talent like his doesn’t grow on trees. Eddie Money had a way of delivering a song with such desperation, like everything depended on it, that you HAD to listen to find out what was going to happen. The guts it takes to be a real songwriter, and put yourself “out there” for the world to criticize, shows through in Eddie Money’s best songs. It’s knowing how to rhyme words, form ideas, and create excitement that make “The Money Man” a songwriter to be studied.
If Eddie Money wasn’t any good, this goofy-looking rocker would have gotten laughed out of show business, especially when MTV came along. If Edward Mahoney had been considered sexy-beautiful, he would have been marketed as a super-star– a new Rod Stewart.
Instead, Eddie Money built his persona through hard work, and turned it into a successful career. Did the lifestyle & grind lead him to an early grave? Probably, yes. Would he do it all over again? Certainly, yes. Why? Because the songs outlive the artist.