Ric Ocasek, lead singer and chief songwriter of the 1970’s and 80’s hitmakers, The Cars, died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan, New York. Ocasek was 75 years old.
Ocasek was pronounced dead at his townhouse after someone called 911 to report that he was unresponsive, a New York Police Department report stated. The cause of death has yet to be determined by the city’s coroner.
Ocasek, born Richard Theodore Otcasek in Baltimore in 1944, met bass player and future bandmate Benjamin Orr after moving to Cleveland for high school.
The pair joined with guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboard player Greg Hawkes and drummer David Robinson to form the Cars in mid-1970s Boston. Ocasek was the main songwriter, sang lead vocals on most songs and played rhythm guitar.
The band's self-titled debut album, featuring the singles "Just What I Needed," "My Best Friend's Girl" and "Good Times Roll," reached Number 18 on the Billboard album charts and cemented their footing on the poprock charts.
In 1979, The Cars got their first top 20 single, “Let’s Go”, in 1979 and was followed with other 80’2 hits like “Drive” and “Shake It Up.”
The band split up in 1988, and Orr died of pancreatic cancer at age 53 in 2000. The surviving members reunited for a final album, "Move Like This," in 2010.
The band was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.
After the final dissolution of the Cars, Ocasek, who often spoke of his dislike for touring, produced dozens of albums, released solo material, wrote poetry and made visual art.
Ocasek was married three times and had six sons, two from each relationship. His third wife, supermodel Paulina Porizkova, announced on May 2018 that the couple had separated after 28 years of marriage.
Gun N' Roses guitarist Slash posted a photo of Ocasek during a performance.