Rock legend Eddie Money dead at age 70

Singer-songwriter and rocker Eddie Money, known for his everyman persona, soulful rasp, and hooky ‘70s and ‘80s hits like “Two Tickets to Paradise,” “Baby Hold On,” “Shakin,’” and “Think I’m in Love,” has died. His death comes only one month after he announced that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer. Money was 70 years old.

"The Money Family regrets to announce that Eddie passed away peacefully early this morning,” read an official statement Friday morning. “It is with heavy hearts that we say goodbye to our loving husband and father. We cannot imagine our world without him. We are grateful that he will live on forever through his music."

CLARKSTON, MICHIGAN - MAY 25: Eddie Money performs at DTE Energy Music Theater on May 25, 2019 in Clarkston, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images)
CLARKSTON, MICHIGAN - MAY 25: Eddie Money performs at DTE Energy Music Theater on May 25, 2019 in Clarkston, Michigan. (Photo by Scott Legato/Getty Images)

Born Edward Joseph Mahoney in Brooklyn on March 21, 1949, Money grew up in Long Island and came from a long line of police officers. He was a member himself of the NYPD for two years, before moving to Northern California in 1968 to pursue his true dream of becoming a rock star. He worked the Berkeley club circuit for years and eventually earned the attention of legendary promoter Bill Graham, who signed Money to his management company. Money landed a deal with Columbia Records, and in 1977 he released his self-titled album, which produced the top 40 hits “Baby Hold On” and “Two Tickets to Paradise.” The album went double-platinum.

Money rode the MTV wave after the cable network launched in 1981, making clever, narrative videos that played upon his likable blue-collar persona, but his career went into decline as he battled drug addiction and his fifth album, Where’s the Party?, stalled on the charts. However, in 1986 he rebounded with his biggest hit yet, “Take Me Home Tonight,” a duet with Ronnie Spector that interpolated her 1963 classic with the Ronettes, "Be My Baby.” The song went to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart, and Can’t Hold Back, Money’s album featuring the single (and another nostalgic hit that cracked the top 20, “I Wanna Go Back”), went platinum.

Money never enjoyed a chart success of that magnitude again, and his last album was released in 2006, but he sold more 28 million records during the course of his four-decade career and continued to tour. He gained a new following with the April 2018 launch of Real Money, an Osbournes-style AXS TV reality series chronicling his family’s adventures. However, that show took a dark and unexpected turn when during its second season he announced his damning medical diagnosis, revealing that his cancer had also spread to his liver, lymph nodes, and stomach.

“What I don’t want to do is I don’t want to keep the fact that I have cancer from everybody,” Money said in the clip from the show. “It’s not honest. I want to be honest with everybody. I want people to know that cancer [treatment] has come a long way and not everybody dies from cancer like they did in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Am I going to live a long time? Who knows? It’s in God’s hands.”

Money’s cancer wasn’t his first health struggle. In 1980 at the height of his fame, the singer, who got sober in 2001 thanks to a 12-step program, nearly fatally overdosed from a mixture of barbiturate and phenobarbital (which he had mistaken for cocaine) and alcohol, damaging his kidneys and the sciatic nerve in his left leg; he was unable to walk for nearly a year as a result. Just this year, he underwent a minor heart valve procedure in May and came down with pneumonia in July. But true to his workmanlike image, he was a fighter until the very end.

Money is survived by his wife Laurie and five children, daughter Jesse Money, and sons Zachary, Joseph, Desmond, and Julian.

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