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By Chris Shapiro
September 2019

The world knew a rock star.  I knew a man who dearly loved his family.  The world knew the singer of “Two Tickets to Paradise.”  I knew a friend.  The world knew an early MTV and later reality TV star.  I knew a man who was devoted to his fans.

The world may remember Eddie Money for his score of Top-40 pop hits, platinum albums and musical successes.  I choose to remember the man I knew, the man who was Money.

Eddie’s music has been a part of my life from early adolescence ever since my mother brought home Eddie Money Super Hits.  I fell in love with his bluesy, rock sound.  His pop style lyrics and deep rooted rock core was a perfect blend of music to grow up on.  Fast forward several years and as college student, my dorm constantly echoed with the songs of Eddie and it was during my college years that I first met him.

It was summer.  I was working in local grocery store and scheduled to mop and wax the floors one night, the same night Eddie had a show in Youngstown, Ohio.  To the disappointment of my manager, I gave up the overtime hours, called off and drove out to see the show.

I met Eddie that night through a VIP backstage ticket.  It was nothing more than a handshake and friendly greeting.  Yet, it introduced me to my rock and roll idol.  As I look back, it was a plot point in our friendship timeline.

About ten months later Eddie had another show in Pittsburgh, my hometown.  Being a journalism major, I ventured to ask for an interview with Eddie.  My request was granted.  From there, our friendship took off and every time he came to the Tri-State area for I show, I was there.  My college professors nicknamed me “Cameron Crowe” and I nicknamed Eddie “the Godfather.”

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At first, it was about interviews and reviews of the shows.  But as I got to know him, the interviews stopped and the conversation between two friends began.

I remember him telling me when he toured with the Rolling Stones that, to him, they were a bunch of normal guys when they were off stage.  That always stuck with me through the years because Eddie himself was such a normal guy.  He loved to talk about sports, and tell jokes, “stop by the t-shirt counter and take a picture with me.  I just washed my hair… on Tuesday!”

He loved his wife and kids.  One time, Eddie was doing back to back shows at Tangiers in Akron, Ohio.  I was in the dressing room with Eddie and his band after the first show and Eddie invited me to eat dinner with them.  Eddie goes on his phone and is showing me pictures of Laurie, his wife, and his kids.  In between spoon full bites of Tiramisu, he spoke about how lucky he was to marry his, “beautiful southern belle” and have the family he did.

Another time, it was his one son’s birthday and while on stage, after the encore, he called his son and wished him happy birthday with the audience.

I would always text him on the major holidays and I always got a response.  “Gobble, gobble, Happy Turkey Day – E$,” His reply read once followed with a picture of his family.

That’s what Money was about, family, friends and fans.

After I graduated from college and started working, Eddie and I kept in touch.  I would share my scripts and various writings with him to which he encouraged me to keep with my writing, always telling me that I had a gift.  In fact, I learned how to write from Eddie.  With him allowing me to interview and review him, I took my craft to the next level.  I even analyzed his songwriting to better understand the art of creation.

Rock Legend Eddie Money

Eddie Money and writer Chris Shapiro before Money’s concert at the House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio.

All artist are the same.  It’s only our canvas that changes.

A few years back, I tried moving to Texas.  I was going to try selling Cadillac”s.  Don’t ask me why I thought Texas or Cadillac, it just seemed like a good idea to try.  I ended up selling Lexus in Pittsburgh.  Missed the mark a bit.  But I shared with Eddie my plan.  He thought it was great.

The morning of my departure, I’m sitting at the airport terminal waiting for my flight and I get a text from Eddie.  He was excited for my decision and wished me good luck on my adventure.  I took it to heart.  Eddie was the only person to text me good luck.

Eddie was more family to me than my own.  Every time we talked, he wanted to make sure I was doing well.  How many dates had I been on, how many girlfriends did I have, did I have a good month in car sales?  He even asked to make sure my finances were okay. “You got enough money in the bank? You doing okay? You need anything?” Eddie would ask.  My own family doesn’t even call or write and here’s Eddie making sure I have enough money to pay rent.

Eddie Money

Rock legend Eddie Money

I never asked Eddie for tickets to his show but true to his song he always had two tickets waiting for me at will call.  It was a constant in my life.  I knew that I could text Eddie telling him I was coming to a show and there would be tickets waiting for me.  New York to L.A., Eddie had me covered.  I had a friend who would be there for me no matter my life status or where I found myself.  It may seem small but knowing Eddie considered me a friend helped me through my failures.

“This is my friend Chris,” Eddie once told a group of about thirty VIP ticket holders and security guards before a show, “Nobody kick him out.”

Another time I went to see Eddie at Meadows Casino.  Security is strictest at the casino gigs.  Eddie’s tour manager came up to the gate to let me backstage but the cop refused to let me in.

“I was told no one comes backstage till after the show,” the cop grunted.

Eddie’s tour manager got right in the cop’s stone cold face, “Well this comes from Eddie, and I’m Eddie’s tour manager, Chris gets to come backstage.”  The gate unlatched and I walked back.

Most recently, I was in California a few months back.  It was my first time to the west coast and Eddie and I were going to meet up for a late lunch while I was there.  I left Paramount in the afternoon and it wasn’t quite evening.  So, I decided to drive up Route One from Santa Monica toward Malibu to watch the California sun set on the Pacific Ocean.  My phone vibrated in the cup holder.  I had a new message from Eddie.  He told me about his cancer.  He was very candid with me.  In the text, he went on to say that he was proud of me and how hard I was working to do good…  It’s one of the last text messages I have from him.

Again, family, friends and fans.

I learned how to treat people from watching Eddie.  When I have clients at my dealership, I treated them the way Eddie treated his fans.  I never met a person so devoted.  After ever show, Eddie would come out to the T-shirt counter to meet his fan base.  He would sign anything you put in front of him, take pictures, tell jokes, give hugs and he stayed until the last person in line got to meet him.70539177_10212129595795109_1087013118325817344_o

It was nearly 45 minutes of signings after his show a year ago at the Palace Theater.  I sat across from the T-Shirt counter watching Eddie meet each one of his fans.  Eddie saw me waiting to talk with him.

“Chris, buddy, I’m sorry,” he called out, “we gotta talk.  It’s a long line!”

On stage, he made sure he delivered a hell of a show to each audience.  He kept rocking right up to the end too.  I mean, it took doctor’s orders to pull him off the stage.  The man loved his craft and what it meant to people.

Family, friends and fans.

I learned a great deal about rock and roll from Eddie but I also learned about life.  Seeing him perform on stage and knowing him personally off stage gave me a deeper insight to his songs.  Each one of his albums contain life lessons and I’ve applied them to my own life.  Even though he has passed, Eddie will continue to influence my life.

Star Wars is as big to me as rock and roll.  To me, Eddie was a real life Obi-Wan Kenobi.  He introduced me to the ways of rock and roll much like Kenobi introduced Luke to the ways of the Force.  Later, Kenobi appeared to Luke as a Force Ghost to guide him in his knighthood.  For me, memories of Eddie and his songs will guide me through my own quest.

“My memories are happy
And my memories are sad
But I love to take my pictures out
And take the things I had
My songs are not like my life now
And it’s always true
Me and my friends were dreamers
Dreamin’ all we do
My Friends, My Friends
Never got together again but
I really do miss my friends.” – E$

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I will miss your humor, music and friendship.  Rest in Peace my friend. – CS

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