By Kevin McClintock
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
They call him the "Money Man" -- Eddie Money. His fans, in fact, often scream "money" at the top of their lungs when he's rocking on stage, clutching $1 bills as a tribute to his catchy, energetic songs.
63-year-old Money, who's sung his unique brand of blue-collar rock for more than three decades now, says it's not about the money at all.
"It's all about having a good time out there," Money said. He was born Edward Joseph Mahoney but changed his last name to Money in 1976. "Being on the stage has always been fun for me. I feel lucky to have had this opportunity."
This music icon is promising "one hell of a show" when he takes center stage at 8 p.m. for tonight's live performance at Downstream Casino.
"It's gonna be a good one," Money said in his legendary gravely voice. His chops have helped push singles such as "Baby Hold On," "Take Me Home Tonight" and "Two Tickets to Paradise" to the top the rock charts during the late '70s and '80s.
Money was called the "heartthrob of the '80s" because more than a half-dozen videos were played endlessly on MTV during the 1980s -- "Walk on Water," "Shakin'" and "I Wanna Go Back," among others.
"I was lucky. There weren't a lot of people doing videos back then," Money said. "Course, when I look back on those videos now, I kinda look like a singing shoe salesman."
Money said he was one of the first rock stars to do daytime television on a regular basis -- from rubbing elbows with the legendary Merv Griffin to cooking a leg of lamb with Diana Shore. He guest-starred on "Saturday Night Live" and performed live countless times on "Solid Gold." More recently, he starred in an episode of "King of Queens" as well as a Geico commercial, where he's selling, literally, two tickets to paradise.
All of this has helped him sell more than 20 million concert tickets and 28 million records during his career. His songs have also made their way into several video games, including "Grand Theft Auto" and a recent "Guitar Hero" game.
He laughs at that.
"I haven't played video games since, man, probably "Pong" back in the '70s."
Parents introduce today's generation to Eddie
He has a huge youth following -- young fans, many of them in their late teens or early 20s, who call themselves "Ed Heads." And many youngsters, some as young as 5 or 6, know the lyrics to his songs "because their parents are fans of mine." And that's OK, since Money is the father of five children, including daughter Jesse Money, who sometimes performs with him on stage.
Despite playing in front of 650,000 people at a festival back in the '80s, he feels most comfortable performing at small venues.
"I like the smaller venues, to tell you the truth," he said. "Nothing like a good club where people are there and having a great time."
Since many of his songs are about everyday folks working blue-collar jobs, his songs appeal to people in the heartland of America, such as Joplin.
"I've got many friends in the Joplin area. My phone's been ringing off the hook. It's gonna be a fun show."
Want to go?
Eddie Money will perform at 8 p.m. tonight at Downstream Casino. Tickets range from $35 to $50.