A loose, loving salute to Levittown legend Eddie Money
He might have been born in Brooklyn and died in California’s Bay Area, but Eddie Money was a living embodiment of a very specific area of Long Island.
He’s from the same area where I come from, in fact. The Levittown / East Meadow area of Nassau County, a very distinct section where high commerce and deep familial roots intersected in a way that is unlike anywhere else in the world. He grew up in a family of Irish cops, and shopped at, dined in and frequented the same spots me and my family did. Legendary East Meadow Italian restaurant Borrelli’s, where my fam and I have been dining since it opened in 1955, posted a sweet remembrance of the singer on their Facebook page.
“The best Italian food in the world,” he once told the site No Place Like Long Island. “It is not in Brooklyn, it’s not in Manhattan, it’s in Long Island.”
I’m sure he ordered takeout at Hunam, enjoyed the best rotisserie chicken in New York at Zorn’s, hung out with his crew at the Levittown Roller Rink, enjoyed a kitchen sink sundae at Jahn’s, shopped at Modell’s and TSS, drank at Potters Pub and Lenny’s Clam Bar, ate breakfast at the Empress, swam at the town pool, enjoyed a fresh sfogliatella at Dortoni. Eddie Money was as local as it got, even when he wasn’t actually living on Long Island.
My uncle was a manager at the Record World at the old Mid-Island Plaza (now the Broadway Mall) in Hicksville, and just posted a memory on Facebook of Money’s dad being a frequent visitor at his store back when his eponymous debut was released in 1977.
“His father would stop in every week to see how ‘Two Tickets’ and ‘Baby Hold On’ were doing on the singles charts,” he recalls. “He would give me free front row center tickets whenever Eddie played My Father’s Place in Roslyn…Good people, great musician, songwriter and performer.”
He regularly played the amphitheater at Eisenhower Park as well, regardless of where he was at in his career. It breaks my heart I never got to see him there. Many of us might have hung our hats on Hicksville’s Billy Joel. But nobody gave the Piano Man the proverbial run for his money like Eddie Money, especially as he continued to gain steam through the 80s on the strength of such enduring radio rock hits as “Shakin’,” “Two Tickets to Paradise” and his epic 1986 duet with Ronnie Spector “Take Me Home Tonight.”
VIDEO: Eddie Money with Ronnie Spector perform “Take Me Home Tonight” on Late Night With David Letterman, 1986
“The love I have for my parents, the love that I have for Long Island people…the first rock n’ roll band I had, we came right up out of here, out of Levittown,” he said to Long Island News Channel 12 in 2009.
When Eddie Money left this universe at age 70 after a valiant battle with Stage 4 esophageal cancer, the rest of the world might have lost one of the last of the true blue collar warriors of rock radio. But those of us who grew up in that Levittown/East Meadow area, we had to say goodbye to one of our most beloved neighborhood dudes done good.
VIDEO: Eddie Money performs “I Can’t Hold Back” at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, NY 2013