Ric Ocasek, lead singer and founding member of the 1970s and 1980s band the Cars, was found dead in his Manhattan home on Sunday. He was 75.
The NYPD confirmed that he was found unresponsive after they received a call for an unconscious male at his townhouse. He was pronounced dead at the scene. No cause of death has been determined at this time.
Born Richard Theodore Ocasek in Baltimore, his family moved to Cleveland when he was 16. Dropping out of college to pursue music, he met future Cars bassist/singer Benjamin Orr. The two spent years without success, through a succession of bands. They finally found some success with a band they called Cap’n Swing ( later called The Cars) , in 1976. The Cars then brought in keyboardist Greg Hawkes and former Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers drummer David Robinson.
In 1979 , The Cars album “Candy O” , included the hit single “Let’s Go.” Ocasek produced the “Rock for Light” album during a break from The Cars, for legendary hardcore band Bad Brains and synth-punk legends Suicide, Romeo Void. He also released a solo album “Beatitude,” during this time.
The Cars had a huge 1982 hit with the “Shake It Up” album. In support of the album and the rise of MTV, The Cars released several music videos. The title track reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 1984, they would release their most commercially successful album “Heartbeat City.” This album produced two Top 10 singles with “You Might Think” and the ballad “Drive,” directed by Timothy Hutton and featuring Ocasek’s future wife, Czech-born Paulina Porizkova.
The band took another break with Ocasek releasing a second solo album, “This Side of Paradise.” The Cars then regrouped and released, “Door to Door,”which only made it to No. 26. By the next year, the band had decided to call it quits.
Ocasek’s followed The Cars breakup with five solo albums between 1991 and 2005. He also found success as a producer for Weezer’s debut in 1994 and the “Green Album.” He also produced albums for No Doubt, Hole, Bad Religion, Guided by Voices, Nada Surf and many others. In 1993, Ocasek wrote a book of poetry called Negative Theatre. In 2003 he also served as senior vice president of A&R at Elektra Records for a short time.
The Cars where inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.
He is survived by six sons.