We lost another one of our rock idols this past week, singer-songwriter Eddie Money (“Two Tickets to Paradise”) passed away on Friday the 13th. A longtime smoker, Money died of complications of stage 4 esophageal cancer at age 70.

He was born Edward Joseph Mahoney back in 1949 to a large family of Irish-Catholics in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in Levittown on Long Island. I assume he was born a musician, because by the time he turned 11 he was working as a street singer looking for tips. As a teenager he joined a band, more so to get dates with cheerleaders than anything else.

His father, who was a police officer, refused to let him grow his hair long, so he got kicked out of the band because of his short hair. Not only wouldn't his father let him grow his hair long, but he was not happy with Eddie's decision to be a musician and ripped the Jimi Hendrix posters off his bedroom wall. He thought the kid needed to be a police officer like himself, his father before him and Eddie's older brother.

Following graduation from high school in 1967, Eddie gave it a shot, but as he said, “I couldn't see myself in a police officer’s uniform for the next 20 years.”

So he split for California, landing in the San Francisco Bay area. There he studied under Judy Davis, a talented actress, and it was there that he took on the stage name of Eddie Money, sarcastically referring to the fact he was tired of always being broke. He then became a regular performer in night clubs around the Bay Area.

He caught the attention of Bill Graham, a rock concert promoter, who landed him a recording contract with Columbia Records, and he was on his way. Eddie Money released his debut album in 1977, which charted with hits such as “Baby Hold On” and “Two Tickets to Paradise.”

In 1978, he opened for Santana at Boston Music Hall, then sang the bridge on “I'm Alright,” with Kenny Loggins.

In the early ’80s he took advantage of the MTV music video scene, and appeared on TV's “Midnight Special” and “Solid Gold.”

His career then took a downturn in 1983 with an unsuccessful album and struggles with drug addictions. He managed to clean himself up and made a comeback in 1986, and returned to the mainstream rock spotlight with the album “Can't Hold Back.” A major hit from that album, “Take Me Home Tonight,” peaked at No. 4 on the charts. Two other cuts also made the top 40.

The following year, Money was nominated for a Grammy Award for the Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for “Take Me Home Tonight.” The album received a music recording certificate of platinum.

In 1996, Money wrote the theme music to “Quack Pack,” a Disney cartoon. In 2008, he was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.

As an actor, Eddie Money made a number of screen appearances, such as “The Drew Carey Show,” the sit-com “King of Queens,” “Oprah,” and a couple of documentaries and a Geico commercial. He even worked as a disc jockey – “Money in the Morning” – for a short time on radio station WSRV.

Eddie stood just under 6 foot and was twice married, first to Margo Lee Walker, on Valentine’s Day, 1984. He and his bride tried to keep it a secret, but a crowd of screaming teenagers also showed up. In 1989 he married Laurie Harris, and together they had five children. They made their home in West Lake Village, California and maintained a vacation home in Island Estates, a gated community in Palm Coast, Florida.

References: Shirley Halperin, Variety, Janice Williams, Newsweek, and Eddie Money.com

To reach Ted W. Stillwell send e-mail to<Ted@blueandgrey.com> call him at 816-896-3592.