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Eddie Money now clean and sober

Money talks

By Serena Kappes

Money, pictured at a benefit for the New York Port Authority Police Department, cites B.B. King as one of his idols; (inset) Money during his '80s heyday.

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(PEOPLE) -- Eddie Money may be best known for hard-driving '80s hits such as "Take Me Home Tonight," but if the rocker has his way, in the future he'll also be associated with baseball.

The self-avowed "sports junkie" wrote a song, "Looking Through the Eyes of a Child," which he hopes will one day replace the ballpark favorite "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

It's just one of the many projects in the works for Money, 52, who still plays an average of 175 shows a year to fans he calls "friends." "I've got a lot of irons in the fire," he says in his thick Brooklyn accent. He's also in the process of re-recording a new DVD of his live show, which he hopes to release later this year.

All this work comes as Money is enjoying a new look at life, having joined a 12-step program two years ago to deal with his on-again, off-again drinking. "I made a promise to my wife and kids that I was gonna change," he says of former model wife Laurie, 38, and his five children -- Zachary, 17, Jessica, 14, Joseph, 12, Desmond, 1, and Julian, 7. "I came to the realization that I didn't really need [it] for my quick wit."

Money (real name: Edward Mahoney) was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. At 16, after he was thrown out of Franklin K. Lane High School for forging his report card, the family moved to Plainedge, Long Island, where the budding rocker joined a local band, Grapes of Wrath. "The best way to get to go out with cheerleaders without being on the football team is to be in a rock 'n' roll band," he laughs.

Money's brief police career

The son of a policeman, Money continued the family tradition by attending the New York Police Academy. But after a stint as a desk clerk, in 1968 he moved to California to pursue his music career.

He became a popular local frontman and in 1975 was signed on by famed manager-promoter Bill Graham. By 1977, he had released his self-titled first album, which ultimately went platinum thanks to hits such as "Two Tickets to Paradise."

But in 1980, Money's high life almost got derailed when he overdosed on alcohol and what turned out to be a synthetic barbiturate. He nodded off for 14 hours while lying on his leg. "I killed the sciatic nerve on my left leg, knocked my kidneys out," recalls the singer, who still walks with a limp. "Doctors told me I was never gonna walk again."

He chronicled the ordeal on his platinum 1982 album, "No Control," but sadly admits he didn't change his ways. "Next thing you know I was back on the charts, I was back on the road, and I started drinking again," he says.

The 1980s brought a slew of hits for Money ("Think I'm in Love," from "No Control" and "Take Me Home Tonight," from 1986's "Can't Hold Back") and he became an MTV favorite. But the radio play waned in the early 1990s and his last studio album was 1995's "Love & Money."

Today, the L.A.-based rocker still loves to perform. "You could give me a 1,000-seat club or put me on a stage in the middle of the afternoon with 30,000 people out there," he says. "It doesn't make any difference to me."

For more Where Are They Now? stories, visit PEOPLE.COM

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