By Adam Waldman
If you watch Eddie Money’s reality show (Real Money) on AXS TV, you already know that this former NYC police officer now makes his home in Los Angeles. As the saying goes…“you can take the boy out of New York, but you can’t take the New York out of the boy.” It may sound cliché to those who never have lived here, but as a native New Yorker, I can tell you firsthand that it is a fact. There’s a down to earth grit that comes with being raised here. Money’s show, which follows his life with his wife and five kids, may be a play on words, but it is also an accurate description of this ‘80s icon.
On the night of March 21, 2019, throngs of fans filled the Westbury Music Fair (now called NYCB Theater at Westbury) to help welcome the native New Yorker back home to celebrate his 70th birthday.
Most rock stars would want to make a grand entrance on such a momentous occasion, but Money is not most rock stars. Quite casually, he walked onto the stage as if he were a local DJ, and announced his opening act for the evening…John Waite. The two go back a long way. Money was deferential in showering Waite with praise, calling him one of his favorite singers. It’s this kind of humility that puts the “real” in Real Money.
Like Money, Waite also resides in Los Angeles now after spending years living in NYC. He also shares Money’s humility, sense of humor, and a similar career trajectory. Pardon the pun, but for my money, I couldn’t think of a better pairing to celebrate this milestone birthday.
I was introduced to both Eddie Money and John Waite in 1980. Not personally, of course, but on a compilation album called The Rock Album. “Two Tickets To Paradise” and “Isn’t It Time” (The Babys) were among 14 songs that included tracks from ELO, Foreigner, Cheap Trick, Styx, Boston, Journey, Kansas, Toto, and more. Nearly four decades later, two key members of the soundtrack to my youth sharing the stage made for a memorable, nostalgic journey back to the place where I grew up.
When Hard Rock Daddy first launched, I had the pleasure of interviewing Waite. We connected on a lot of topics, most notably our affection for NYC (the place where my parents grew up). Although I had been a fan for years, I didn’t get chance to see him in concert until October of last year in an intimate performance at the site of the original Woodstock (CLICK HERE to read the full review). It was an incredible evening.
As the opening act, Waite’s set was a bit shorter than his headline set in the fall, but he was just as entertaining. This was the first time that I attended a concert with a friend that I’ve known since childhood. It made the evening that much better. I especially enjoyed watching the genuine laughter at Waite’s jokes throughout the evening, and of course, singing along to the songs of our youth. Having just seen Waite perform six months prior, I already knew that his voice is as good as ever, and I had a pretty good idea of what songs would be played. With the exception of a few disappointing omissions, Waite once again delivered his hits, and set the tone for Money with a rousing rendition of “Whole Lotta Love” to close the set.
The original concept behind Hard Rock Daddy was to be a hybrid site that focused on rock music and fatherhood. It quickly shifted to just being a music site with a name that wasn’t quite as on the mark as it was intended to be. Why do I mention this? Because Eddie Money is the embodiment of the name.
Out of the six members of Money’s band, four are his children. They are a talented family with undeniable chemistry, and an endearing love of their dad. It’s safe to say that most dads to not get to celebrate their 70th birthday on stage with their kids. What a gift that must have been to Money!
With Money, what you see is what you get. He prides himself on singing songs about the things in life that the average person experiences. His songs hold a special place in the heart of a generation of fans. Throughout the evening, they brought pure joy to the crowd of his party attendees who passionately sang along as the nostalgia washed over them.
The last time that I saw Money perform live – at my college during freshman year – his kids weren’t even born yet. He was touring in support of No Control. It’s the only concert that I remember from my four years of school. Back then, he made me laugh as he coughed his way through half of a song after taking a hit of a joint. That moment appealed to my teenage sensibilities.
During his 70th birthday performance, Money made me laugh with the kind of dad jokes that I tell around my kids. At times, he reminded me of the Borscht Belt comedians of yesteryear. Self-deprecating jokes aside, Money’s performance was a joyful walk down memory lane with thousands of “friends” in attendance.
As much as I wanted to focus my attention on this hard rock daddy, it was his daughter Jesse that drew your attention like a moth to a flame. Her basic black outfit drew even more attention to her cool, animal print boots and her lustrous blond hair. Even though she was often times behind the other members of the band, when she strut across the stage, dancing and playing tambourine, you couldn’t help but watch her.
At various times throughout the performance, Jesse swung her hair like a thrash metal concert attendee. Yet, it never looked like so much as one hair was out of place. Her presence reminded me of a famous episode of Friends, where Denise Richards guest starred as the cousin of Ross and Monica. Whenever she would shake her hair, everyone (men and women alike – including her cousin, Ross) was mesmerized and drawn to her.
The songs were all great, but what I appreciated most about Money was his stellar saxophone play that helped to bring the songs to life.
The three-hour trip that I took to be in the crowd to celebrate Eddie Money’s 70th birthday was well worth it. If you haven’t checked out Real Money yet on AXS TV, I highly recommend doing so. It’s highly entertaining and real, and gives you an even greater appreciation for this talented family when you go see them in concert.