New York singer Eddie Money, best known for "Two Tickets to Paradise" and "Take Me Home Tonight," passed away on Friday, September 13, having recently disclosed that he was battling stage 4 esophageal cancer. He was 70.
"46 years ago, I got a phone call from a very intoxicated sounding gentleman," recalls local guitar MVP Greg Douglass, best known from the Steve Miller Band. "'My name's Eddie Money,' he slurred, 'and I need a guitar player. I mean, I got one, he's a f--kin' bitch, but I thought two guitars would be cool. Some guy in a music store in Berkeley said you were the shit, so when do we do this thing?'" Now, I am no stranger to mind-altering substances. I was quite the drug fan for an undergraduate. I declined his offer of employment many years, but clearly this guy had his Masters in narcotics while I was still an undergraduate. I declined."
Several years passed after that phone call, during which Eddie Money scored several mainstream hits. By the time the 1980s dawned, Douglass notes "Eddie was a star and had one of the best guitarists on the planet, Jimmy Lyon. My pals Lonnie Turner and Gary Mallaber, were his rhythm section on his first couple of albums." The same duo also worked with Douglass in Steve Miller's band.
"Lonnie and I wrote a song called 'Trinidad' that was to be the lead-off single from the [Eddie Money] album Playing for Keeps. We cut a killer track. The album was released and the first single was...a reggae track."
That song "Running Back," as well as the album's sappy duet with Valerie Carter "Let's Be Lovers Again," failed to click with Money's fans. Several solid tracks were written in conjunction with Money band member Randy Nichols, and one of the songs Money wrote on his own, "Million Dollar Girl," is considered among his best tracks, mainly thanks to the guitar work of Jimmy Lyon. "Get a Move On" (co-written by Paul Collins) was heard on the soundtrack from Americathon.
However, introducing the album with "Running Back" proved to be its death knell. "Reggae plays well on the coasts, but everywhere else? Nope. Columbia stopped promoting the album, 'Trinidad' got a huge amount of radio airplay but never got released as a single. It was unfortunate; it could have been a sizable hit, if Columbia had the balls to promote it." The album was briefly available on CD format, but quickly withdrawn and not re-released on disc until 2012. After the Playing for Keeps support tour, Money reportedly collapsed and was hospitalized, after which he took a long break to recover.
Eddie Money "Trinidad"
Guitar by Greg Douglass and Jimmy Lyons
"The last time I saw Ed, I opened for him in Oceanside. He seemed unfocused and his swagger was a shadow of its former self. We ran into one another over the years and he never lost his talent or his drive to succeed. I wish the guy had pulled off a couple of more hit singles but, alas, it never happened. Eddie was as New York as Nathan's hot dogs, the consummate rock and roller, and jive to the bone. Now, another peer of mine has left the stage. It's happening so fast. One by one, my generation is disappearing."
"However, we did leave some kick-ass music behind us. I'm proud of the guitar work Jimmy Lyon and I did on this track, with extra points to David Lewark for his low-end growl...Jimmy Lyon and I split the solos and fills. I miss my Gibson 345."
The track does spin off in a somewhat different direction near the finale.
"Wasn't me at the end. It was the outstanding work of Jimmy Lyon. The length was the decision of Ron Nevison, the producer."
Money appeared in San Diego many times, going all the way back to at least 1977 when he opened for guitar god Robin Trower at the Sports Arena. He was an annual regular on local stages off and on from the 80s through the early 2000s. Just between 2009 and 2011, he performed at Harrah's, the Belly Up, 4th & B, Ramona Mainstage, and Sycuan Live & Up Close Theatre. Since then, however, he's been mostly MIA locally, last seen for an August 2018 appearance at Viejas Casino Concerts in the Park. However, Greg Douglass did perform "Trinidad" during a special showcase of his works last summer at the Belly Up.