Born Edward Thomas on November 27, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York; died May 7, 1998; son of an oil refinery refrigeration engineer; married Janine, November 27, 1976; children: Dimelza, Timmy (died, 1985), Tommy. Addresses: Record Company--Intersound Records, Inc., P.O. Box 1724, Roswell, GA 30077. Fan Club--P.O. Box 35286, Cleveland, OH 44135.

Singer/songwriter Eddie Rabbitt, a New Jersey boy with a soft heart, smooth voice, and the talent to create uplifting melodies, pioneered the expansion of country music onto the pop charts. Both country and pop music fans loved Rabbitt's no nonsense style of songwriting and made Rabbitt a superstar with 26 number one country hits and eight Top 40 pop hits. This crossover success was unheard of in 1980, but with such hits as "I Love A Rainy Night," "Drivin' My Life Away,"I Just Want to Love You," and "Step by Step," Rabbit became a crossover country/pop music pioneer.

Eddie Rabbitt was born Edward Thomas on November 27, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York. His parents, Irish immigrants, soon moved to Orange County, New Jersey where Rabbitt's father worked days as a refrigeration engineer in an oil refinery, and played fiddle and accordion nights at New York City dance halls. Rabbitt followed in his father's musical footsteps and learned to play the guitar at 12. He also quit school at 16--later passing an equivalency exam. His mother Mae told People that Eddie, "was never one for school. His head was too full of music." In the late 1950s, Rabbitt, like his father, picked up a day job as a mental hospital attendant before landing a nightly singing gig at the Six Steps Down club in East Orange, New Jersey. In 1964, Rabbitt signed his first recording contract with 20th Century Records and released his first single, "Next to the Note" backed with "Six Nights & Seven Days." However, for the next four years, fame and fortune alluded Rabbitt.

In 1968, Rabbitt, as noted in his online biography, hopped a bus to Nashville, Tennessee with "$1,000 in his pocket and no music business contacts." He told People 's Tim Allis that he soon realized "[that] singers were a dime a dozen [in Nashville]. But there weren't a lot of good songs." Hoping to fill that void, Rabbitt began writing his own songs, and on his first night in Nashville penned "Working My Way Up to the Bottom." Grand Ole Opry artist, Roy Drusky, recorded the song in 1968. Success would not be overnight, and Rabbitt was forced to work a variety of odd jobs including truck driver, soda jerk, and fruit picker to survive. Yet, Rabbitt continued writing and knocking on record and publishing company doors. A door finally opened for Rabbitt at the Hill & Range Publishing Company where he was hired as a staff writer with a weekly salary of $37.50.

Jewel in the King's Crown

With a little help from the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, Rabbitt finally hit it big in 1970. Presley recorded Rabbitt's song, "Kentucky Rain," which became his fiftieth gold record. For Rabbitt, this song, as noted in Contemporary Musicians, Volume 5 , "showed the earmarks of future Rabbitt hits--it had country emotions interwoven with a pop melody--and it suggested the young songwriter might be a candidate for crossover success." Yet, Rabbitt told People that he credited his Irish roots for his emotion and inspiration, "Country music is Irish music. Appalachian music was brought over by the Scotch and Irish. I think the minor chords in my music give it that mystical feel." Rabbitt later shared this mystical feel with the world by recording "Song of Ireland"--an Irish jig-like tune with lyrics reflecting Rabbitt's love of the Emerald Isle with its "shamrock hills and 40 shades of green."

In 1974, Rabbitt wrote another hit, "Pure Love," this time for country star Ronnie Milsap. The song was Milsap's first number one single, and Elektra Records, seeing Rabbitt's potential for hit-making records, signed him to a recording contract. In 1976, Rabbitt not only scored a number one single, "Drinkin' My Baby (Off My Mind), but he also married, as he told People , "a little thing about 5 foot tall, with long, black beautiful hair, and real pretty face. She looked like an angel to me."

Cross-Over Hit Maker

In the late 1970s, Rabbitt became a top ten single writing and recording machine with a string of number one hits including, "Rocky Mountain Music," "Two Dollars in the Jukebox," "Drivin' My Life Away" and "I Just Want to Love You." In 1977, the Academy of Country Music named Rabbitt the Top Male Vocalist of the Year. In 1979, Rabbitt hopped over to the pop music charts with the theme to Clint Eastwood's movie, Every Which Way But Loose . Yet Rabbitt kept a foot in country music and was named Music City News Country Songwriter of the Year. Rabbitt's popularity in both country and pop music not only grew, as noted by Alanna Nash in Entertainment Weekly , but "his blend of feel-good melodies, jangly rhythms, and tight vocal harmonies [also] helped usher in the urban cowboy era of the `80s."

In 1980, BMI named Rabbitt's song, "Suspicions" as their Song of the Year, and Rabbitt amazingly topped both the pop and country charts with his smash hit, "I Love A Rainy Night." Yet, Rabbitt, as quoted by Tony Russel in The Guardian , never thought about crossing over, "I came to Nashville with nothing in mind about pop music. I was country and it just so happened that the kind of music I was making crossed over to the pop charts" In 1982, Rabbitt crossed over again with "You & I," a duet with Crystal Gayle, and after signing with RCA, scored another number one country hit duet, "Both to Each Other," with Juice Newton. However, one year later Rabbitt disappeared.

Backed Out and Came Back

In 1983, with the birth of his second child, Timmy, Rabbitt stepped out of the country and pop music spotlight. Rabbitt backed out because Timmy was born with biliary atresia, a disease that attacks the liver. Timmy's only chance of survival was a liver transplant. So Rabbitt, "against the advice of his manager, mothballed his career to stay near his son," wrote Allis. Rabbitt felt he had "to be there if I'm any kind of man." Sadly, in 1985, after an unsuccessful liver transplant, Timmy died. Rabbitt told Allis that Timmy's death took "the cockiness out of [my] walk."

In 1989, Rabbitt released the album I Wanna Dance With You . In the early 1990s, after short recording contracts with Universal and Capitol, Rabbitt released two albums: Jersey Boy and Ten Rounds . However, Rabbitt left Capitol in 1992 to focus on touring with his band, Hare Trigger. Rabbitt, as stated in Contemporary Musicians, Volume 5 , had "become a wholesome performer without sacrificing his popular offbeat sexiness." Rabbit himself commented, "I don't ever get down and dirty. I think the stage is no place for that. I think you have to be very careful as an entertainer about what you bring to the stage because some people try to think of you as more than human. I figure if we're going to be role models for people, we should at least try to be good role models."

Beatin' the Odds

In the late 1990s, Rabbitt became a role model off stage by becoming a spokesperson for many charities including Special Olympics, Easter Seals, and the American Council on Transplantation. In 1996, Rabbitt was once again noted for his musical contributions when BMI honored Rabbitt with their Three Million-Air award for "I Love A Rainy Night" and Two Million-Air award for "Kentucky Rain." Moreover, Presidential candidate Bob Dole adopted Rabbitt's song, "American Boy" for his campaign song. But it was the release of Welcome to Rabbittland , Rabbitt's first children's album that was his dream come true.

January of 1997 brought both good and bad news to Rabbitt. He signed a new recording contract with Intersound Records, but soon after that he was diagnosed with lung cancer. After completing his first round of chemotherapy and just four days before surgery to remove part of his left lung, Rabbitt released a new album, Beatin' the Odds . While recuperating, Rabbitt began working on his second children's album, Songs from Rabbitt Land . Rabbitt described the album to Diane Samms Rush of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as "17 songs, jokes, and stories I wrote for my kids as they were growing up.... Who knows? The rest of my career I might be known as Mister Wabbitt!"

Rabbitt once stated, "We all have to dance with our devils, but I lead." Rabbitt, however, could not beat the odds against one of life's cruelest devils, succumbing to cancer on May 7, 1998 at the age of 56. Yet, Rabbitt not only danced with many devils--the rough road to success, the sad death of his son, the hard struggle for a musical comeback, and cancer--he also lead country music to its now common, crossover pop chart success.

by Ann M. Schwalboski

Eddie Rabbitt's Career

Signed first recording contract with 20th Century Records, 1964; released first single, "Next to the Note" b/w "Six Nights & Seven Days;" moved to Nashville, TN in 1968; wrote "Working My Way Up to the Bottom" recorded by Grand Ole Opry artist, Roy Drusky; hired as staff writer for Hill & Range Publishing Company; wrote Elvis Presley hit, "Kentucky Rain," 1970; signed recording contract with Elektra Records, 1974; wrote number one single, "Pure Love" for Ronnie Milsap; first number one hit as singer and songwriter with "Drinkin' My Baby (Off My Mind)," 1975; recorded 17 albums, producing 26 number one country hits, eight top 40 hits throughout the 1970s and 1980s including: "Drivin' My Life Away," "I Love A Rainy Night," "Every Which Way But Loose," "You & I" (duet with Crystal Gayle), "Step by Step,;" semi-retired in 1983 to take care of son, Timmy; returned in 1989 with I Wanna Dance with You; released two albums, Jersey Boy and Ten Rounds which included the hit, "American Boy" in the early 1990s; signed with Intersound Records in 1997 and released Beatin' the Odds and Welcome to Rabbittland.

Eddie Rabbitt's Awards

Academy of Country Music Top New Male Vocalist, 1977; Music City News Country Songwriter of the Year, 1979; BMI Song of the Year for "Suspicions," 1980; BMI Two Million-Air Award for "Kentucky Rain," 1994; BMI Three Million-Air Award for "I Love A Rainy Night," 1996.

Famous Works

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Visitor Comments Add a comment…

about 3 years ago

Too many years have passed, I still love to go back to my good days where Edie was a very big part. I too miss that man! And yes. I'm sure he is where we all hope to be one day in God's good time. Blessings to his family!

about 3 years ago

Hello All, Today has been 13 years since we lost this beautiful soul, I miss him very much and miss his music. Thankfully I have lots of his CDs and Tapes ,but that cannot replace seeing him in person, God rest his soul and I'm sure he is making beautiful music with all the other great artists up there in heaven, Wonder how his family is doing ,hopefully the pain has eased for them. Would sure like to see more participation on this site so hopefully everyone will share their feelings & etc. Forever Rabbitized, Renate

over 3 years ago

Hello to all my fellow Eddie Rabbitt fans just want to say hello and wish everyone Happy Holidays and hope all will get better in the economic situation. let's not forget all our blessings and try to be better than ever in being a better person and help our fellow human beings. On another note it is hard to believe Eddie has been gone 12 years already and I still miss him thankfully we still have his music to listen to. I still wonder how his family is doing does anyone know? Wished more people would get on here and share their feelings or their experiences about Eddie and such. Solong and God Bless you All! FOREVER RABBITIZED , Renate

over 3 years ago

I have a Womans White Blouse with Fringe on the front. It has been autographed to Liz: From Eddie Rabbitt. It seems to be a large blouse and is in great shape. I would liketo sell this if anyone is interested, please let me know at tiff2u@msn.com and mention Eddie Rabbitt. I can send you a picture of the blouse.

almost 4 years ago

Eddie Rabbitt was very popular when I discovered country music and I saw him in concert about a dozen times. I, too, have one of his guitar strings and an autographed t-shirt. Still listen to all his cds. I often wonder how his family is doing and what his kids are now doing. Does anyone know?

about 4 years ago

P.S JUST REREAD THIS COLUMN MY APOLOGIES TO NANCY AS IT WAS YOU THAT SAID I WAS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOLUCKY, NOT SHARON AS I STATED.

about 4 years ago

Hi everyone, JUST WENT THRU READING ALL THE COMMENTS AND I BELIEVE IT WAS SHARON THAT SAID I WAS SO LUCKY, YES I AM AS I HAVE BEEN TO SEVERAL OF HIS CONCERTS AND HE ALWAYS LET THE AUDIENCE KNOW HE WAS A FAMILY MAN AND THAT HE KISSED NO WOMEN BUT HIS WIFE SWEET JANINE. I ALWAYS ADMIRED THAT ABOUT HIM AND THE FACT THAT HE WAS JUST A GREAT HUMAN BEING. ON ANOTHER NOTE I FORGOT TO MENTION THIS ON MY LAST COMMENT I ALSO HAVE A COUPLE OF HIS G-STRINGS FROM HIS GUITAR WHEN HE PERFORMED IN VALLEJO CA. BACK IN 1989 HE DID THIS TO THE SONG WE MUST BE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT I ALSO HAVE A TERRY TOWEL, A EDDIE RABBITT T-SHIRT A SIGNED PICTURE & CD. WHICH I TREASURE ALONG WITH OTHER STUFF I COLLECTED I WILL NEVER GET RID OF THESE THINGS AS THEY ARE A PART OF THE GREAT MEMORIES I HAVE OF HIM I STILL MISS HIM AND OF COURSE CONTINUE TO LISTEN TO ALL MY MUSIC OF HIM.GOD BLESS AND KEEP ALL OF YOU AND MAY EDDY RIP AND MOST OF ALL I HOPE HIS FAMILY HAS HEALED ENOUGH TO GO ON WITH THEIR LIVES KNOWING THAT THEY WERE BLESSED THE MOST BY HAVING HIM. SINCERELY, RENATE ---STILL AND ALWAYS AN E.R. FAN

over 4 years ago

Looking for Elaine Rerhig who was fan club president for Eddie Rabbit, her her husband Bill played in Eddie's band, Elaine use to bowl with my bowling team in Nashville, tn

over 4 years ago

I grew up listening to old country, well that's what they call it now. Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty and Dolly Parton so I have a soft spot for when a legend like Eddie Rabbitt passes on. RIP Eddie, I Love a Rainy Night was and still is an awesome song.

over 4 years ago

i was wondering if anyone knows the names of eddie's parents. my father has told me in the past that eddie was a cousin of his by his aunt and uncle. Mae sounds familiar, my father had an aunt Mae. Does anyone know his mother's maiden name?

over 4 years ago

I am still a big fan of Eddie Rabbit. My favourite song "Bedroom Eyes", wow beautiful lyrics, I dont hear it on youtube anymore. Your music lives on. R.I.P Eddie

over 4 years ago

my late mother was a HUGE eddie fan, and a member of the fan club. over the years she has amassed a very large collection of memorabilia. items include lots of pictures and magazine articles. i will have to check to see what all she had. instead of just throwing it away, we are looking for a good home for all of it. there is really too much to ship, but if somebody was willing to meet us we would be glad to let it join your collection. we are located in ottoville ohio, 45876. please email me at jbstepleton@verizon.net for more information and any questions. thanks, john

almost 5 years ago

I became a fan of Eddie when he played warm-up act for Dolly Parton. While his fan club was in Lewistown, OH I was able to assist with it because it was so close to where I live. I was lucky enough to have met him on several occasions, and I agree that for entertainers, he was one of a kind. Since his death, I have visited his hometown of Franklin, and fell in love with the town, I go there every chance I get. I continue to have his CD's in my car, and they will never be taken out, except when I trade cars. I send out my sympathy to his family for their loss. I know how much I have missed "new releases" from him, and seeing him in concert, so I can only imagine how much they miss him. But they can be very proud that he was a part of their lives.

almost 5 years ago

One of my best memories from being a kid in the '70's was my parents giving me a pass-me-down stereo and some used 8-tracks which I wore out. One of them was all Mr Rabbitt and he was on a couple of others.He was one of the reasons I got hooked on country. I was sad when he lost his son, and also when he died.

almost 5 years ago

Was Eddie Rabbit a D.J. at a radio station in Dallas?

about 5 years ago

I have a Off White Womens Blouse with a Toule Front with Fringe on it that has been signed, To Liz Eddie Rabbitt. If anyone is interested in this blouse, please contact me at tiff2u@msn.com. Thanks Darwin

about 5 years ago

I have an Autograhphed Eddie Rabbit Womens Blouse that I would like to sell. I came upon it many years ago and picked it up at that time. At present the blouse is signed To Liz Eddie Rabbitt. Anyone that might be interested can contact me at tiff2u@msn.com. Thanks

about 5 years ago

i was a huge eddie rabbitt fan from the beginning. still love listening to his smooth vocasl on everything he sings. he was one of a kind in that he did not have a huge ego and sincerely wanted to be a good role model, a quality most entertainers severely lack. i was devastated to hear he had died at the time but found consolation in the thought that now he was with his beloved son timmy. what a wonderful man! God bless and rest in peaceful sleep eddie. you are still loved.

about 5 years ago

I was born in 1969, I have loved Eddie since I was a child. My father was a fan, and also looked alot like Eddie, Which I guess I became a fan. His songs had made me cry and made me feel great, he had that way of writing songs that hit the average Joe. I can't say I have a favorite song of his, to hard to choose, I love them all. Mr. Eddie Rabbitt is by far my favorite singer. My father passed last nov.2008 of lung cancer and liver disease, after he was gone the first person I thought of was Eddie, and Eddie Rabbitt cds' was all I listened to. I love you Mr. Rabbitt

over 5 years ago

I heard that Vern Gosdin passed away and was thinking of Eddy Rabbit and have looked up his biography before. I didn't realize he wrote Kentucky Rain one of my favorites. Well hard when good country singers are gone. Rest in Peace all of them that have gone.

over 5 years ago

OMG, I am so excited! I just found a way to get all my Eddie Rabbitt cassette's onto my computer! I have nearly all of his albums so I've been working on it for two days straight, but I am so happy to have them preserved forever! My favorite song has always been Tullahoma Dancin' Pizza Man :-) This site was wonderful to read. Thank you and God Bless Eddie Rabbitt and his fans. Renate (comment below) - You are soooo lucky!

over 5 years ago

One of the best country singers known, it is sad he is no longer around. One of my favourite songs done by him is "bedroom eyes". I will always be a fan of Eddie Rabbitt....his momories will live on forever. Sharon

over 5 years ago

I just want to say i am totally rabbitized Eddie is one of the best country and pop singers ever. Seen him in concert several times ,even got a hug from him the last he was at john asquagas nugget in sparks nevada. JUST A WONDERFUL HUMAN BEING I WILL ALWAYS MISS HIM. RIP EDDIE LOVE ALWAYS A LOYAL FAN. R.