Beaumont lost one of its favorite concert series and Cherry Festival performers on Friday, Sept. 13.
Eddie Money, the iconic rock n’ roll singer known for hits such as “Two Tickets to Paradise,” “Baby Hold On’’ and “Take Me Home Tonight,’’ died at age 70 from complications of a heart valve replacement.
He also had been diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer.
News of Eddie Money’s death hit fans hard, according to Facebook and social media reports.
I, too, was saddened to learn of his death. I did not personally know him, but I had the privilege of interviewing him in May 2018 for the Record Gazette. He was one of the performers set for the 100th anniversary of the Cherry Festival and so I arranged a phone interview with him through the management company that handles those requests.
It was set for a morning in early May 2018. I was a little nervous, I will admit. I know that he had performed at the popular summer concert series in Stewart Park and also in the same venue in Beaumont for the Cherry Festival.
Over the past eight years, I’ve been fortunate to do phone interviews for this paper with Kenny Rogers, Leann Rimes, Brian McKnight, Scotty McCreery, Tanya Tucker and Rick Springfield.
So, on this morning, I dialed the phone number and a man answered. I thought it was Eddie Money. It was not. We both realized it was a wrong number, but the man offered to be Eddie Money for the purpose of the interview. I said no thank you and called the management company back.
It took a little while but they found the right phone number. I dialed and soon I was talking with Eddie Money.
I have been interviewing celebrities and non-celebrities over the past 35 years and I have never laughed as hard as I did during that hour-long talk with Eddie Money.
I asked him why he loved going on tour. His answer: “I have five kids. I’ll do anything to get out of the house.”
I also had an opportunity to talk with his wife, Laurie, and between the two of them, I couldn’t stop laughing. They were so real and down-to-earth as they talked about their five children, Zachary, Desmond, Julian, Jessica and Joseph.
The latter three toured with their father and performed at the Cherry Festival last year.
During the phone interview, Money told me that he was planning to cook that night and the meal was pork roast and gravy, with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach.
After I got off the phone, my co-workers teased me about the interview. They said “You made a new friend, didn’t you?’’
Yeah, I think I did.
I wanted to meet him on the day of the concert, June 2, 2018.
Bob Sherwood, former Beaumont Community Services Director and a director with the Cherry Festival, let me wait in the picnic area behind the pavilion. .I sat on a picnic bench around 5 p.m. just so I could say hi to Eddie Money and then go back to the audience and find a seat.
It kept getting closer and closer to 5:30 p.m. and Money was set to hit the stage at 6 p.m. Although I was worried I wouldn’t have enough time to say hi, I had to go with the flow and I just watched all of the action going on backstage.
One of the Mini Kiss performers said hello to me and sat down on the same bench in front of me. I did not want to disturb him so I just sat there.
About 5:40 p.m., Money and his family walked through the gate. Money went ahead to the dressing room so I went over to his wife Laurie and introduced myself again. I told her about the phone interview and I said all I wanted to do was say hi to her husband.
No photos, no selfies.
She said that wasn’t a problem. Then she looked at me and said, “You want to know why we were so late? Because we had to go through the In-N-Out Burger drive thru. They wanted their hamburgers (Eddie and their three kids). I told them, “Guys, we have a show to do.” (In-N-Out won).
So, we walked inside the pavilion and she introduced me to their three children while we waited for Eddie.
When he walked out of the dressing room, two of the Mini Kiss performers got so excited and wanted a picture with him. He obliged and I unexpectedly got a great candid shot of the three of them.
I finally said hi to him and thanked him for making me laugh harder than I have laughed in 35 years of reporting. He smiled and said thank you.
And then I headed out of the gate to find a seat, only to see that there was standing room only under the tent, on the grass and at the beer garden. The fans loved him.
When I learned of his death, I posted these memories on Facebook and Bob Sherwood shared a wonderful story with me about his friend, Eddie Money.
A few years back, singer Ronnie Milsap became ill and couldn’t perform at the Cherry Festival.
Sherwood said that Money rearranged his whole schedule so he could replace Milsap at a moment’s notice.
I am grateful that I had the chance to interview him and that I got to meet him before his untimely death last week.
I looked back at the story I wrote for the Cherry Festival tab last year on its 100th anniversary. I thought the end quote was ironic in my story on Eddie Money.
“As much as Money jokingly complains about having all five children live at home, he knows there will be a day when they will move away.
“I left home at 19,” said Money. “These kids, they never leave. When they do, I ‘m going to have an empty nest.”
Staff writer Julie Farren may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (951) 849-4586, ext. 119.