June 17, 1996 12:00 PM

“You turn around one day and you’ve become a father. It’s like, ‘Whose kids are these? Wait! They’re mine!’ ” says Eddie Money (né Ma-honey), 47, in the busy kitchen of his suburban Los Angeles ranch house. “Suddenly you find yourself doing things you never thought you’d be doing.” In the late ’70s, he was doing the expected: making meat-and-potatoes rock hits (including “Baby Hold On” and “Two Tickets to Paradise”), living the limo life and getting high. In 1980, Money inhaled a powerful barbiturate that he thought was cocaine. The overdose left him with a badly damaged sciatic nerve. (His ’82 hit album, No Control, recounts the experience.) “It was very scary,” recalls the son of a New York City policeman. “I was in physical therapy for more than a year.” But, despite a first marriage that was unraveling and a spell in rehab, he continued his wild ways.

Falling for Laurie, a model, in 1985 finally paved the road to sobriety. When they met, “I really didn’t know who he was,” she says. “I used to get him mixed up with John Mellencamp.” She adds, “He was really interested in having children, but he had to stop doing what he was doing. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have stayed.” They had Zack right off the bat, Money joined a 12-step program, and the couple married in 1989. These days, there’s a Volvo in the driveway instead of a limo. He’ll cancel a concert to attend one of the kids’ ballet recitals. Sometimes the whole family joins him on the road, where he sings his old hits as well as selections from his latest album, Love and Money. His greatest excitement now is zipping around the neighborhood, where he has been flagged twice for speeding. “They caught me doing 37 in a 25-mile-per-hour zone,” he says. “Now I have to stop the tour on one Saturday in July so I can do this damn traffic school. Can you believe it?”

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