The power of Rock and Roll is something to behold. We’ve seen it in the No Nukes concerts. We’ve seen it in Farm Aid, Band Aid, USA for Africa and we’ve seen it in many benefit shows. Eddie Money knows the power of Rock and Roll and the power of raising money for causes he believes in. Eddie uses the power of Rock and Roll to raise money to fight Pediatric AIDS and to support the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Foundation. Along with drummer, Glenn Symmonds, Eddie uses the power of Rock and Roll to Beat Cancer Like a Drum. Unfortunately, Glenn was diagnosed with bladder cancer and like many musicians, he found himself without health insurance at the time of diagnosis. I was able to speak with Eddie Money about these causes and about the power of Rock and Roll in helping to cure diseases and in supporting our troops.
Money: It’s amazing, Glenn Symmonds has been with me on and off since 1973 and the band sounds great!
Smitty: It is amazing! We actually saw you at the Hard Rock back on the first and the show was fantastic!
Money: Thank you very much for showing up for that show. I did think the voice sounded pretty darn good that night. I appreciate that.
Smitty (Laughs): Absolutely. You and the band sounded great! Everybody sounded great! I’m wide open today to talking about anything you want to. I would like to cover your One More Soldier single as well as your charitable work on behalf of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
Money: I do everything for these kids who are born HIV positive through no fault of their own. They never had promiscuous sex with anybody. They never stuck a dirty needle in their arm, yet they were born with this disease. Five or ten years ago I used to get letters about these kids suffering from this disease, very tragic. Due to the advancement of medicine these kids are doing a lot better. I’m out there selling and signing shirts and supporting kids who are born HIV positive.
Side note: I’ve been privileged to be able to attend several Eddie Money concerts and it’s refreshing to see him out selling merchandise to raise funds for these causes and also taking the time to meet and speak with anyone and everyone who takes their time to help support these causes.
Money: I’m also supporting The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. These kids come back from Afghanistan with these head trauma injuries. It’s a non-profit charitable organization and they have two facilities. They have a facility in San Antonio with about 115 beds in it. And, now they have a facility in Maryland that they have built for these veterans who are coming home. You know, my wife goes out to see these veterans as well. Now, we’ve got a new version of One More Soldier Coming Home and it’s about a kid who unfortunately doesn’t make it back from, say the police action in Afghanistan. It’s a beautiful song. However, it’s on the sad side. I also wrote another version of the song and I think the military will get behind it better. It’s about a kid who serves our country over there and actually makes it back home. Now, which version would you go with? If I sent you both versions of the song, which version would you think you would you lean toward? The positive version, or would you lean toward a song like, Big Bad John? Do you remember that song?
Smitty: I do remember that song. It was a huge hit! Personally, and it’s just me, I would lean toward the positive side and look to see him come home.
Money: I think the song would be better if the kid came back and his family and his grandmother are waiting for him at the airport. If he came back after serving his country it would be more of an upbeat song and I know the military would get into it more and more and everything else like that. Then again, I’ve run into some people who have lost their sons and daughters over there. And, I’ve run across some of these amputees and I’ve got to tell you, my heart goes out to these veterans. Over there, it’s 114°, they’ve got a 70-pound pack on their back and they never know when they’re going to get blown up by any of these people. What they do for this nation, it’s just really incredible! You can’t forget, I mean these guys and girls who join the service. The Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Air Force. They don’t do it for the GI Bill. They don’t care about coming out of the service and going to college for nothing. They weren’t thinking about that. They weren’t thinking about that at all. They were thinking about serving our country, which is fantastic! It’s really something about this great nation that we live in, you know?
Money: I’m not a big Obama fan. I’ve got to tell you that. But, you know my heart goes out to the President. To try to stick up for those people, for the government to do something about people gassing these women and children in Syria. I thought that was a very commendable thing for the man to do.
Smitty: I agree with that 100%.
Money: I know that Congress didn’t back him and all this political bullshit. I didn’t vote for Obama but I think his efforts lend a lot of a lot of credibility to him. And, I also like his wife because his wife is trying to get these kids off their asses and get them to exercise. I think it’s great!
Smitty: Absolutely! That’s fantastic! We’ve just done a documentary entitled, Undersize Me. Getting kids to get off their rear ends is absolutely the way to go. It’s a shame…
Money: You know that Michelle is all behind that and I think that’s amazing. It’s a positive thing. I mean all these kids sitting around on their asses with these computers and eating all this fast food and stuff like that I mean this is the future of our country were talking about you know?
Smitty: Absolutely. When we were in school there weren’t a lot of heavy kids and now a lot of the kids are heavy.
Money: That’s very true. I mean, I was a kid once, too. What are you going to do? Well, the boys and I want to invite you to come down to the show. It should be a wonderful show. I mean we open up the show with Baby Hold On and then the girls want to hear that song Endless Nights. They love that song, Endless Nights. For example, last week I did a show and you know I’m sober. I do all of my shows sober. I’m working out and I’ve still got all my hair. My weight is down. I think a lot of the fans are very happy. You know, everybody lives in the past and the more I can look like the Eddie Money they fell in love with 30 years ago, the better off my shows are going to be.
Smitty: Well, sure.
Money: Last week we forgot, Walk On Water in the set. And, when I was signing shirts and things for the kids and the troops I had so many people come up and ask, “Why didn’t you play Walk On Water?” So when we play Baby Hold On, Take Me Home Tonight or I Wanna Go Back, these are important songs to these people.
Money: You’ve got to realize some of these people travel 110 to 150 miles to see my show.
Smitty: That’s right.
Money: So, I can’t forget to play these songs for people. I just can’t, you know?
Smitty: We appreciate that. It really means a lot to us. For example, as a teenager in the 70s on my first cross-country flight, that had music on it, I plugged my headset into the armrest and Baby Hold On was the very first song that I heard. Thirty-five years later, I still remember that.
Money: Well, how about that? And, everybody has those kinds of memories, which is really amazing! I can remember when I finally got onto FM radio, which was college-orientated radio and there was AM radio, which was Top 40 radio. I remember, it was “Whoa!” a big deal and I remember getting on AM radio. I was so excited! I called my mother up and there were no cell phones back then. I had about four dollars worth of quarters and I had tears in my eyes and she said to me, “I told you not to call me on mahjong night!”
Smitty: (laughs) That’s terrific!
Money: Now, I’m selling shirts and signing shirts for the kids and for the troops. You know when I do a show I want the girls to keep their tops on.
Money: It’s a family show. I mean it’s the most important thing. I have kids out there and I’ve got a lot of young kids, you know? I’d like to be a little bit of a role model if I could. You know, back in the day I used to knock down a lot of vodka and I used to do this and that. I used to be the man with No Control. Once you start having children, you don’t want your kids growing up thinking their father is a crazy alcoholic or that their father is a pothead. You know, I felt very sorry for Richie Sambora when he got a DUI and he had his kids in the car.
Money: And, I don’t think he’s a drunk. He also got a ticket for child endangerment.
Smitty: Well, sure.
Money: Rich is not the kind of a guy who is going to get drunk off his ass and drive around with his kids in the car.
Money: He might have blown over the limit, but I know Richie. Getting bad press like that is just not good for you.
Smitty: No. Absolutely not. And, kids do change everything. It’s funny how they change everything you do. When we went to see you in Tampa, for example, I couldn’t bring my daughter because it was in a casino and it was a 21 and over show. I’m glad that I wasn’t able to bring her because a fight broke out. We bought merchandise from you to support the Pediatric AIDS Foundation of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and everything was stolen while we were taking photos with you.
Money: You know I hate to hear stories like that. I would like to think that the Eddie Money crowd would be better than that. It wouldn’t be that category of people and I apologize for that. I’d like to think that you could come and see one of my shows and bring your little girl. Because I think it’s a clean show.
Smitty: Oh, I know it is. And, we’re going to bring her next weekend when the band plays here in Orlando
Money: The fights breaking out, that’s a tragic part of the business and I do everything I can to discourage violence at the shows. There’s nothing worse than singing Baby Hold On and looking into the audience and seeing people beat the shit out of each other.
Smitty: I agree 100%. And, it was a great family show outside of the environment that we were in. Next week you and the boys are playing downtown Orlando and you better believe it, we’re bringing my 15-year-old girl and we are really looking forward to it!
Money: Oh, yeah, and bring her backstage! I want to thank you for the publicity you are bringing to the Pediatric AIDS Foundation and to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. From what I understand, you have a pretty prominent career in this business and you have a lot of respect. I appreciate the fact that we had the opportunity to visit and do this interview.
Smitty: I appreciate it as well. I want you to know that I’m managing Dr. Chuck Stevens and I’m also going to be bringing him out to your show next weekend.
Money: Oh, I love Dr. Chuck! I love Chuck! You’re talking about Mr. Radio!
Smitty: Mr. Radio! Yep!
Money: We go back 35 to 40 years in the business. What a gentleman, too.
Smitty: Yes, he is. He’ll be out with us next weekend as well.
Money: He’s always been in my corner for me. He was always there for me, Chuck. I love the guy!
Smitty: Absolutely. There you go. We’ll grab Chuck, my daughter Sabrina, my girl, Sharon and my brother, Ron. And, we’ll come out and see you. One quick thing about my brother and something that I think you need to know as well. You may not even realize how many people you help out with your music. Ever since I was a kid, if I ever found myself in a jam or whenever times got tough, I would put Eddie Money in the cassette player, CD player or whatever was available at the time, because you, Can’t Keep A Good Man Down. I’ve listened to that song in those situations over the years…
Money: We should probably do that song again. That’s a great song…
Smitty: I really wish that you would because I passed my find on to my brother 20 or 30 years ago And he’s been using that song ever since. I can’t tell you how many times he has called me and said, “Hey! The Money Man came through for me! I was down and out and now I’m back on my feet!” Songs like that really make a difference.
Money: You know, we’re going to have to get that song back in the set. Hey, listen you have a great week and I’m looking forward to seeing you and your girlfriend and your brother and your daughter at the show next week! We should have a lot of fun!
Featured in Eddie Money’s band are Glenn Symmonds on drums, Tommy Girvin who has been in Eddie’s band for the past 22 years, Lee Beverly who gained fame via the Rick Springfield route by appearing on General Hospital, and Chris Grove formerly of Survivor and from my father’s hometown of Chicago on keyboards.
Photos by Sabrina Smith and Michael McCoy. Property of ScreenSmith™ Productions.