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Backstage with Ron Onesti: Show me the (Eddie) Money!

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 6:39 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 11:17 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Provided photo)
Eddie Money performs at the Arcada Theatre in 2012.

One of the most popular television commercials out today features rock icon Eddie Money as a travel agency owner singing “Two Tickets To Paradise” to a family looking for tickets to a vacation.

The humor of the commercial itself stems from Money holding two plane tickets in his hand and doing the song a cappella in a somewhat inebriated state. A fair representation of a stereotypical rocker of the ’70s and ’80s, this spot proves that comedy was never really meant to be pretty.

I have worked with Eddie on several occasions, most recently two sold out shows at The Arcada Theatre and a corporate event at Universal Studios Orlando just this past weekend.

He is a big guy with an equally as big personality, and actually came up to me and introduced himself.

Wearing those signature black old-school sneakers, his demeanor was that of someone who may have had a foreign substance and a cup of coffee or two for lunch. By his own admission, he did suffer from major drug addiction early on. I have to admit, when I first met him, my raised eyebrows probably gave away the fact that I was a bit concerned about my show that was to happen just a few hours later.

Then he walked around to the crew and shook all their hands.

Next, he approached the opening band and with one “Hi, I’m Eddie,” put the intimidated local performers at ease. He quickly conquered the room.

After an intense sound check, he asked me, “We got time to grab a bite?”

We then walked to a local restaurant and it was then that I started to really understand how he worked.

We entered and he quickly surveyed the room. It only took him seconds to pick out the tables of customers who probably knew him.

Where most entertainers would veer off to the left of that situation, Eddie embraced it. After several “Hiya doin’ honeys” in that Brooklyn accent, we finally sat down to dine on some major pork chops.

For two hours, we talked about the ups and downs of his career. He could not be more open, honest and sincere. He talked about his early years as a New York City policeman.   “My hair was too big for the hat,” he joked. In my opinion, his sense of humor is a severely underrated talent. Within any one particular conversation, he fires a barrage of quips and quick-witted shots (nothing appropriate for this readership) that would trump anybody else’s effort on TV’s “Make Me Laugh.” He then leans over to me and says, “Anybody you want me to meet tonight or take pictures with, you just say the word. I just want you to look good.”   I gotta tell ya, NOBODY does that. On any typical show night, the stress level rises because the celebrity does not want to meet the fans and I have sponsors’ customers who want to meet them, etc. ...

Most entertainers give me a big problem with it, often quoting Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men.   “Ask me nicely,” they say.

Then the quantity has to be approved, and they have to do it at a certain time at the show, etc. ... . It’s a tough thing usually, but not when it comes to Eddie. Then if they do give a few autographs, it is usually exclusively on the merchandise they sell.

Money will do that too, but he will also sit out in front after a show and shake everybody’s hand, take pictures and sign whatever it is that they wanted. He is a true gentleman who treats every fan as if they were his only fan.

Yes, Eddie Money is the real deal. With 17 top-ten hits on the Billboard charts and sold out shows all over the country, he is still humbled by his adoring fans.  

He is fun to watch, almost a caricature of himself with the poise of Mick Jaggar and the excitement of Steven Tyler. He’s a dancer but probably not doing much ballet any time soon.

Ironically, Eddie is not just about “the money.” This guy is truly about the people and the music and shows no signs of slowing down. The stage is his paradise, and I strongly suggest you take him up on his offer of two tickets to it any chance you get.
• Ron Onesti is president and CEO of Onesti Entertainment Corp. and the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. He provides personal recollections of events and people that he has encountered over the years. Send comments to spark@kcchronicle.com.

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