Shakin’ with the Money man

CHARLES TOWN – One thing is certain about Eddie Money: He has staying power.

The classic rock radio icon, who burst onto the music scene in 1978 with two Top 40 singles, “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Baby Hold On,” stills finds new audiences embracing his music. His combination of Top 40 appeal and catchy guitar hooks in conjunction with the predominate music of the day — whether the power rock of the 1970s or the New Wave movement of the 1980s — appears to be a formula that still resonates with audiences young and old, and Money has cashed in on it.

Classic rock radio fixture Eddie Money has been entertaining audiences worldwide since the 1970s. He brings his set of Top 40 favorites, along with new material, to the Eastern Panhandle Friday.

“You know, it’s really crazy. These kids today, their parents grew up listening to me, Cheap Trick, REO Speedwagon, Peter Frampton, The Beatles, so I have kids that are six years old that know the verses to ‘Think I’m in Love’ and ‘It’s Just Amazing’,” Money said in his trademark thick, gravely, Brooklyn accent in a recent telephone interview from his home north of Los Angeles. “We have a lot of young fans out there and there is a lot of young college kids that come to my shows for some reason and it’s really great.”

Born Edward Joseph Mahoney on March 2, 1949, in Brooklyn, N.Y., the longtime rocker has been performing since his high school days when he joined a band called “Grapes of Wrath.” He briefly followed in his father’s footsteps and became a police officer, but quickly found it was not too his liking. “I did that to make my dad happy, but, I couldn’t stand the thought of having short hair for 20 years,” Money joked. “I had to get out and do my thing. So I moved to California in 1968.”

The move turned out to be a life-changing event. Money started performing in California and was soon discovered by legendary band manager and concert promoter Bill Graham. “We did a show called “Sounds of the City” in 1975 which was amateur night at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco,” Money said. “We did “Baby Hold On” and “Two Tickets to Paradise” and stole the show. Next thing, rocket to stardom.”

Graham had this to say about Money as a musician and performer: “Eddie Money has it all … Not only can he sing, write and play, he is a natural performer.”

The artist can boast of having 23 songs in the Top-100 during his 34-year career. He stills finds singing his hits as fresh as when he wrote them. “I hate to sound egotistical, but I really do (still enjoy doing old songs). When I see people light up when the tune gets going, you know, what’s an entertainer do? An entertainer entertains,” Money said. “You want to make people happy. You want to reach out to the audience, and let’s face it, who wouldn’t want “Two Tickets to Paradise?” The song “Take Me Home Tonight” is still the biggest club song and the most favorite fraternity song of the last 25 years.”

Money has met and played with some of the biggest names in the business. One of his favorites is Ronnie Spector, the legendary singer from the 1960s group, The Ronettes and former wife of record producer Phil Spector. He recruited her to do the backup singing on his 1986 hit “Take Me Home Tonight” and maintains that she is one of the best in the business. “She is such a sweet heart and a great lady,” Money said. When we made that video and that door opened up and the smoke came up and she hit that stage, I knew I was working with a real pro.”

In addition to touring, the 63-year-old rock celebrity finds time to perform charity work. He recently recorded a song called “One More Soldier Coming Home” for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. Established in 2000, the fund has provided more than $120 million in support for the families of fallen military service members personnel. All proceeds from the song, available for download at eddiemoney.com, go to the fund.

“The song was written to do something for the troops and make people aware of the fact that these kids aren’t joining the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marines because they care about getting four years of college; they love this country — that’s why they are serving this country,” Money said. “It’s the greatest country in the world and one of the things I love about the citizens is we give them a standing ovation when they come off the plane.”

Money is also an active supporter of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. He donates a portion of his merchandise sales to the group. Named for the wife of actor Paul Michael Glaser of “starsky and Hutch” fame, the nonprofit group was founded in 1988 and works to prevent pediatric HIV infection and eliminate pediatric AIDS through research, advocacy, prevention, care and treatment programs.

The casino-heavy tour this year has been fun for Money, but he said the venues are not at all that different from the clubs and arenas he is used to playing.

“People my age and in their 40s they get bored, the kids are all grown up and they like to gamble. I like to gamble. The shows are great and I love playing casinos. They always have a great sound system. People are a little dressed up and it’s a classy show. Hollywood Casino is a nice casino and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The artist has recruited some heavyweight musicians to accompany him on this tour: Edgar Winter, on the saxophone, climbed the charts in the 1970s with songs like “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride.” John Cafferty, meanwhile, of John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band, will be playing guitar.

Money said he is looking forward to the show at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races. “I have two tickets to paradise but I am taking everybody. Come down and do some shakin’ with the ‘money man’ because it is going to be a wonderful show and bring back a lot of memories. It’s going to be a fun night, man,” Money said. “If anybody misses the show, they will be kicking themselves in the pants.”

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