EDDIE MONEY HAS PASSED AWAY AT 70

Eddie Money-- the '70s and '80s hitmaker known for "Take Me Home Tonight" and "Baby Hold On" -- has died ... TMZ has confirmed.

The singer died Friday following complications from stage 4 esophageal cancer. His family said, "The Money Family regrets to announce that Eddie passed away peacefully early this 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."

Eddie made thestunning revelationabout his diagnosis during season 2 of his reality show, "Real Money." As we reported ... Eddie got the heartbreaking news late last year during a routine checkup with doctors.

It didn't look good at that point ... the cancer started in Eddie's esophagus but spread to other parts of his body. He'd been battling health scares for some time now. You'll recall he was forced to take a break from the road for other health issues -- aminor heart valve procedurein May and he alsocaught pneumoniain July, but neither issue was related to the cancer.

Eddie -- born Edward Joseph Mahoney -- was born in Brooklyn. He came from a long line of family members who served with the NYPD. He himself was on the force for 2 years ... before ditching NYC in 1968 for California to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a rock star.

Money worked the local clubs in Berkeley before he was signed to Columbia Records in 1976. His self-titled debut album earned double-platinum success. The album also included some of his classic hits ... including "Two Tickets to Paradise." His career spanned more than 4 decades and he sold over 28 million records.

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Eddie also made a guest appearance on the CBS sitcom 'King of Queens' back in 2002.

He's survived by his wife of more than 30 years, Laurie, and 5 children ... Zachary, Jessica, Joseph, Julian and Desmond.

Eddie was 70.

RIP

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