Born Edward Mahoney, March 21, 1949, in New York, NY; son of a police officer; married; wife's name, Laurie; children: five. Education: Attended the New York Police Academy. Addresses: Home--Berkeley, CA. Record company--Wolfgang Records, P.O. Box 429094, San Francisco, CA 94142-9094.
Rock singer Eddie Money's personal life has garnered him almost as much attention as his successful albums of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Seeming to come out of nowhere with his 1977 self-titled debut, Money had actually been a fixture around the San Francisco rock scene for several years. With the assistance of a big name concert promoter, he attained major-label stardom. But the temptations of such notoriety almost caused the singer to join that pantheon of young dead rock stars whose ranks had grown rapidly during the drug-fueled '70s. After staging a comeback with his successful 1982 album No Control, Money's career again seemed to grind to a halt during the rest of the 1980s as his forceful, edgy rock songs got lost in the shuffle of the burgeoning new music scene. Then, in 1995, the middle-aged rocker's career was resurrected once more.
Money was born Edward Mahoney on March 21, 1949, in New York City. His father, a police officer, relocated the family from Brooklyn to Long Island when Money was just a youngster. To the dismay of his parents, he began singing in rock bands while still in high school. He stayed out of the Vietnam War by enrolling in the New York Police Academy and continued to sing in local combos while serving as a police cadet. Soon, however, Money's antiestablishment philosophy and growing interest in the world of rock and roll clashed with the beliefs of his parents' generation. "I grew up with respect for the idea of preserving law and order, and then all of a sudden cops became pigs and it broke my heart," Money told Rolling Stone reporter Mikal Gilmore in 1978. "It was just a goddamn shame that getting high was illegal." One day he typed up a written defense of a certain unnamed drug on police stationery and found himself booted out of the academy.
Deciding to make a go of a career in music, Money relocated to the San Francisco Bay area, where he was finally free to grow his hair long. He sold blue jeans and got his first big break when he joined Big Brother and the Holding Company, singer Janis Joplin's backing band, shortly after her demise. In 1975, after singing for a number of years in different bands--and rearranging the Mahoney surname into "Money"--he became involved with popular Bay Area concert promoter Bill Graham's management company. The two had met after Money performed in a battle of the bands at one of Graham's venues, and the elder statesman of rock quickly became a friend, manager, and mentor to Money. Graham helped him negotiate a recording contract with Columbia Records. The singer's first release, 1977's Eddie Money, catapulted him to overnight stardom.
Money's gravelly voice and the accessible, hard rock sound of the self-titled debut spelled AOR success. His backing band featured musicians fresh from their work with the Steve Miller Band, best known for their hit "Keep On Rocking Me, Baby." The first two singles from Money's first record, "Baby, Hold On" and "Two Tickets to Paradise," reached Number 11 and Number 22 on the 1978 charts respectively. Heavy touring followed, including opening dates for the legendary rock band Santana, but the excesses of the rock and roll lifestyle seemed to lead Money into some well-publicized trouble. After recording and touring for two follow-up albums, Life for the Taking and Playing for Keeps, Money finished a late 1980 tour, was admitted to a Bay Area hospital, and then disappeared from the public eye for over a year. Initial press accounts reported that the singer was suffering from food poisoning, but rumors soon circulated that his affliction was drug-related.
In 1982, nearly a year and a half later, Money discussed the entire incident with Rolling Stone reporter Greg Hoffman. At a party one night back in 1980, after drinking heavily, the singer snorted a substance on a mirror that was being passed around the room. Money assumed it was cocaine, but it was really a synthetic barbiturate. He nodded off and spent the next 14 hours lying on his leg, severely damaging a nerve. The incident also brought temporary impairment of his kidney function. The ordeal helped Money look at his lifestyle a bit more closely. "I can't believe I was hanging out with and respecting people who let me lay dying for fourteen hours," he told Hoffman.
Money's recuperation and hiatus from the public eye was spent working on a fourth album, released in the summer of 1982. Titled No Control, many of the tracks explore the demons that had led him down the wrong path. "You know why this record is so good?" he queried Hoffman in the Rolling Stone interview. "It's so good because I worked my balls off and because I almost killed myself. Half the people in the country probably think I'm dead, but I'm not dead. I'm back!" Of the album's best-known single, "Think I'm in Love," High Fidelity contributor Chuck Eddy opined that the song's "traction comes from how the initial mythological acoustica lures you siren-style toward the hard-boiled fuzz riff, which comes and goes." Another track, "Shakin'," features guitar work as "murderous as anything radio has accepted this decade," asserted Eddy.
In the Rolling Stone interview with Hoffman, Money attempted to explain the problems in his recent past as a split between who he was originally--Eddie Mahoney, working-class kid from Brooklyn--and who he became after overwhelming success--the rock star known as Eddie Money. He showed Hoffman his still-damaged leg. "Eddie Mahoney didn't do this to himself, Eddie Money did this to Eddie Mahoney. The big rock star with the Mercedes and the half a million dollars in the bank almost ruined what I really am. It took me a lot of years and a lot of work to get what I wanted, but it took Eddie Money only a couple of days to almost throw it away."
Money recorded a series of albums for Columbia during the 1980s, including 1984's Where's the Party, the 1986 effort Can't Hold Back, and Nothing to Lose, released in 1988. A greatest hits package followed the next year, but Money had taken a break to concentrate on family life. He got married, and within a few years he and his wife were expecting a fifth child. This period of Money's life was also marked by tragedy, however, when longtime friend Bill Graham died in a 1991 helicopter accident. An eighth studio album, Right Here, arrived in the same year, with the track "I'll Get By" dedicated to the late Graham. In 1992 Money released an acoustic effort entitled Unplug It In. Reviewing the work for Entertainment Weekly, David Browne declared that its "clunky, heartfelt renditions" of Money's best-known songs emit "more charm and warmth" than most pop acts. The singer also began playing small club dates of acoustic sets.
Money's career took an unexpected turn in 1995 when Graham's surviving namesake management company reactivated the Wolfgang Records label (a defunct imprint of Columbia originally started by Graham)--and Money became the first artist in their repertoire. Issuing Love & Money in the spring of 1995 heralded a comeback of sorts for Money. The record's first single, "After This Love Is Gone," was lauded as "a chugging, rock-edged pop ballad" by Billboard magazine. Two other tracks--"Died a Thousand Times" and a cover of '70s soul singer Isaac Hayes's "Run Your Hurt Away," with its lyrics about resurrecting one's life--seemed to best reflect the renewal of Money's career and personal life.
by Carol Brennan
Eddie Money's Career
Signed with Columbia Records, 1977, and released self-titled debut album; signed with Wolfgang Records (a reactivated imprint of Columbia), 1995.
- Selective Works
- Eddie Money, Wolfgang/Columbia, 1977.
- Life for the Taking, Wolfgang/Columbia, 1978.
- Playing for Keeps, Wolfgang/Columbia, 1980.
- No Control, Wolfgang/Columbia, 1982.
- Where's the Party, Columbia, 1984.
- Can't Hold Back, Columbia, 1986.
- Nothing to Lose, Columbia, 1988.
- Greatest Hits: The Sound of Money, Columbia, 1989.
- Right Here, Columbia, 1991.
- Unplug It In (EP), Columbia, 1992.
- Love & Money, Wolfgang, 1995.
- The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, edited by Jon Pareles and Patricia Romanowski, Rolling Stone Press/Summit Books, 1983.
- Periodicals Billboard, April 8, 1995; May 6, 1995.
- Entertainment Weekly, December 18, 1992.
- High Fidelity, July 1989.
- Rolling Stone, May 4, 1978; August 19, 1982.
- Additional information for this profile was provided by Suzan Crane Public Relations.