Ric Ocasek, best known as the lead singer for the iconic new wave group The Cars, has died, the NYPD has confirmed to ABC Radio. He was 75.
Ocasek was found unconscious and unresponsive at around 4 p.m. ET on Sunday; The New York Post reports that his estranged wife, Paulina Porizkova, was the one who found him. Sources told the Post Ocasek appears to have died of natural causes.
Formed in 1976 in Boston, from the ashes of a previous band named Cap’n Swing, The Cars codified the sound of what was known as new wave by mixing synthesizer-based pop with guitar-based rock. The lineup included Ocasek, bass player Benjamin Orr, guitarist Eliot Easton, drummer David Robinson, and keyboard player Greg Hawkes.
After their song “Just What I Needed” started getting airplay on Boston stations, the band signed to Elektra records. Their 1978 self-titled debut album was a success, featuring “Just What I Needed,” “Let the Good Times Roll” and “My Best Friend’s Girl,” as well as popular album tracks “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight,” “Bye Bye Love” and “Moving in Stereo.
More albums and more hits followed, including “Let’s Go,” “It’s All I Can Do,” “Shake It Up,” and “Since You’re Gone.” In 1984, they released their most successful album, Heartbeat City, which featured the smashes “You Might Think,” “Magic,” and “Drive.” The innovative “You Might Think” video won the band Video of the Year at the first-ever MTV Video Music Awards.
In 1989, Ocasek married supermodel Porizkova, who’d starred in the video for “Drive.” They have two children; the couple separated in 2017. Ocasek also has four sons from two previous marriages.
The Cars broke up in 1988 but Ocasek continued with a solo career and also became a sought-after producer, working with bands like Weezer, Suicide, Romeo Void, Hole, No Doubt, Bad Religion and Bad Brains. He also appeared in several films, including the John Waters movie Hairspray, and wrote several books of poetry.
In 2011, the Cars re-formed without Orr, who died in 2000, and released a new album, Move Like This.
Ocasek and The Cars were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year.
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