Music News & Reviews

Eddie Money, former Sacramento-based drummer entangled in legal fight

Eddie Money and his band say good-bye to the crowd at the West Bank Stage as they close out the River Festival on June 11, 2011.
Eddie Money and his band say good-bye to the crowd at the West Bank Stage as they close out the River Festival on June 11, 2011. The Wichita Eagle

Claims and counterclaims mark an increasingly nasty legal fight between veteran rocker Eddie Money, his former Sacramento-based drummer and the drummer’s fiancée, with allegations of discrimination, sexual harassment and extortion tactics flying between the camps.

Glenn Symmonds, a friend of Money’s for more than 40 years, according to the lawsuit, and Symmonds’ fiancée, Tami Landrum, allege in a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court that the singer “constantly made vulgar sexual advances” toward Landrum, a tour merchandise designer. The complaint also alleges Money disparaged Symmonds on and off stage about his battle with bladder cancer before Money fired the pair in May 2015.

Attorneys for Symmonds and Landrum, Lawrance Bohm and Bohm Law Group of Sacramento, seek unspecified damages for a list of allegations against Money, including age and disability discrimination, sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment and wrongful termination.

Money is painted in the lawsuit as a fading, increasingly out-of-control rock star who intimidated underlings and boasted of his harassment of Landrum. Symmonds, who alleged in a state Fair Employment and Housing complaint that he was wrongfully terminated from the drummer’s chair and as the tour’s merchandise manager, had sought to have the case heard in Sacramento Superior Court. Money’s attorneys won a change of venue to Los Angeles Superior Court, according to court documents.

“This is a case about the enormous ego of a fading rock star, his misbegotten sense of entitlement and his increasingly out-of-control behavior,” reads the complaint filed May 20 against Money and Eddie Money Entertainment Inc.

The harassment continued after the pair’s firing, according to the claim, with Money taking to social media to say Symmonds and Landrum set out to sabotage Money’s reputation by hiring hecklers to appear at his shows. Plaintiffs’ attorneys allege Money sent an August 2015 online missive to fans saying Symmonds “dried drunked himself out of a job.”

Money, a staple of classic rock radio with hits “Shakin’,” “Two Tickets to Paradise,” and “Baby Hold On,” is identified in court documents by his given name, Eddie Mahoney. He lives in Los Angeles County.

Money’s attorneys filed a lawsuit against Symmonds and Landrum on Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, asserting the singer’s free speech right to musically express himself with musicians of his choosing, calling the allegations “salacious and maliciously false.”

His attorneys also launched a counterattack, depicting Symmonds as a desperate, out-of-work drummer eager to extort a decades-long friend for cash after Money put Symmonds and the rest of the touring band on hiatus in May 2015 to perform with his adult children.

“It’s not two tickets to paradise for either of them,” said Money’s attorney William Hochberg, referencing Money’s 1977 breakout hit.

“This is a desperate attempt to shake down Eddie for money,” Hochberg said. “It’s a sad thing. (Symmonds) is having a hard time. He wasn’t fired because of age or any illness. He didn’t have a lifetime tenure in this band.”

The couple’s lawsuit includes allegations that Money made sexual advances toward Landrum. “Mr. Money frequently told Ms. Landrum she had a ‘hot body,’ and that she was a ‘dirty little girl.’ He frequently attempted to greet her with an open mouth kiss,” according to the complaint.

The suit cites a backstage incident at Napa’s Uptown Theater in November 2013, alleging Money grabbed Landrum by the shoulders, pulled her close and told her, “I’d do you in a heartbeat.” Landrum pushed Money away, according to the complaint.

It states that on another occasion, after a February 2013 engagement in San Ramon, Money greeted Landrum in his underwear at his hotel room and attempted to kiss her.

The couple’s attorneys allege the Napa and San Ramon incidents were part of a pattern of harassment dating to Landrum’s first days on the job at Eddie Money Entertainment Inc., in 2011. The lawsuit cites profanity-laced text messages it says Money sent to Symmonds telling the drummer at one point “I can’t ever fire you whn(sic) I wana(sic) do your fiancé. Ha ha.”

Plaintiffs’ attorneys also allege that Money mocked Symmonds, 61, onstage, referring to him at shows as “Chemo the Drummer,” and telling a Vacaville audience that the show was being sponsored by the adult undergarment brand Depends. The lawsuit claims this was a reference to Symmonds’ urinary incontinence brought on by his treatments for bladder cancer.

Hochberg said the “Depends” comment was a shopworn joke playing off Money’s 1982 album “No Control,” and that the 67-year-old rocker’s comments about the band’s advancing age often were followed by a rim shot from drummer Symmonds.

“He’s a funny, joking type of guy,” Hochberg said, with a “comedic sense of humor.”

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith