Eddie Money succumbs to cancer
The 1970s pop-rock star who sang “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Baby Hold On,” died Friday in Los Angeles. He was 70.
Eddie Money, a onetime police officer trainee who sang his way to pop-rock stardom in the late 1970s with songs such as “Two Tickets to Paradise” and “Baby Hold On,” died Friday in Los Angeles. He was 70.
His family announced the death, according to The Associated Press. Money underwent heart valve surgery in the spring, canceled concert dates because of pneumonia and revealed in August that he had Stage 4 esophageal cancer.
A singer-songwriter who also played the saxophone, keyboards and harmonica, he specialized in blue-collar rock — notably in “Take Me Home Tonight” (1986), which featured former Ronettes vocalist Ronnie Spector.
The single revitalized Spector’s singing career, earned a Grammy nomination and became Money’s biggest commercial success, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard charts.
Its popularity capped a remarkable decadelong run for Money, a Long Island rocker who was plucked from obscurity by rock impresario Bill Graham; opened for Santana, the Rolling Stones and the Who; nearly crippled himself from a drug overdose; and recovered in the early 1980s to become a shaggyhaired fixture of the newly created television channel MTV.
“Ever since I was young I’d sing in my home/ Those crazy songs I heard on the radio,” he declared in “Wanna Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star,” from his 1977 selftitled debut. He wanted “a mansion on the hill” and “thousand dollar bills” to burn, he said, and to some degree he got it — certified platinum records, if not wheelbarrows of cash, and a devoted following that persisted into recent years, when he continued touring and starred with his family in an AXS reality series called “Real Money.”
Labeled “rock’s Rodney Dangerfield” by Rolling Stone, Money had initially pursued a far more conventional lifestyle, following his father and grandfather into the New York Police Department. He worked for two years as a clerk and typist, but in 1968 he either quit or was fired — he told both versions of the story, invariably citing his desire to grow out his hair — and moved to Berkeley, California.
He supported himself by selling bell-bottom blue jeans and, perennially broke, adopted a tongue-in-cheek stage name, dropping a few letters from his surname, Mahoney, to become Eddie Money.
Money said he linked up with Graham after playing in a battle of the bands contest at the promoter’s Winterland Ballroom venue in San Francisco. With Graham’s help, he signed a contract with Columbia Records, resulting in a studio debut that spawned two Top 40 singles, “Baby Hold On” and “Two Tickets to Paradise.”
Money found mixed success with a pair of follow-up records and had finished a tour for “Playing for Keeps” (1980) when he snorted a barbiturate, phenobarbital, apparently believing it was cocaine. Amid a night of heavy drinking, he “went into a semi-catatonic state,” he said, damaging his kidneys and the sciatic nerve in his left leg.
He was unable to walk for nearly a year.
“Eddie Mahoney didn’t do this to himself, Eddie Money did this to Eddie Mahoney,” he told Rolling Stone while recovering.
His follow-up, “No Control” (1982), invigorated his career and launched him to prominence on MTV.
Into the early 1990s, Money had hits such as “I Wanna Go Back,” “Peace in Our Time” (originally released by Jennifer Holliday), “I’ll Get By,” “Endless Nights” and “Walk on Water,” which peaked at No. 9 on the charts.
Edward Joseph Mahoney was born in Brooklyn on March 21, 1949, and raised in Levittown, New York. He married Laurie Harris in 1989 and had five children. Several performed with him in recent years. A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.
Eddie Money, shown in 2010 singing the national anthem before a college basketball game, died Friday.