Ric Ocasek, The Cars Frontman, Dies at 75


Staff member
Apr 7, 2013
Ric Ocasek, The Cars Frontman, Dies at 75

Pat Saperstein 1 hr ago

Ric Ocasek, frontman of the popular late 1970s and 1980s band the Cars, was found dead in his New York home on Sunday. He was 75.

The NYPD confirmed that he was found dead after they received a call for an unconscious male at his townhouse. Emergency services pronounced him dead at the scene.

The Cars and Ocasek were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

With a sound that melded new wave and rock, the Cars had 13 top-40 singles including “Just What I Needed,” “Good Times Roll,” and “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight.” After The Cars broke up in 1988, he went on to produce numerous albums for bands including Bad Brains, Weezer, Guided by Voices, Bad Religion and Nada Surf. He released seven solo albums, but none had the impact of the original Cars material.

Ocasek was raised in Baltimore but moved to Cleveland at the age of 16. He briefly attended college but dropped out to pursue music, and in 1965 met future Cars bassist/singer Benjamin Orr. The two formed a succession of bands and operated in Ohio and Michigan before relocating to Boston in the early 1970s. There they formed a folk-rock band called Milkwood that released one album on Paramount Records that was not a commercial success; the pair also performed as an acoustic duo at the time.

They eventually united with future Cars lead guitarist Elliot Easton in a band called Cap’n Swing that received airplay on Boston rock powerhouse WBCN, but rebooted as The Cars late in 1976, bringing in keyboardist Greg Hawkes and former Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers drummer David Robinson.

From there things moved quickly for the band: During the following year a nine-song demo, including their future breakout hit “Just What I Needed,” received heavy airplay on Boston stations and the group signed with Elektra.

Their self-titled debut, released in June of 1978, featured an unusual but appealing mixture of styles that both capture the pop-rock sensibilities of the time as well as the burgeoning new wave sound, which was gradually making inroads in the U.S.

In a review from that summer, New York Times critic Robert Palmer succinctly described their sound as a combination of “punk minimalism, the labyrinthine synthesizer and guitar textures of art rock, the 50’s rockabilly revival and the melodious terseness of power pop.”

Ocasek separated from Czech model Pauline Porizkova in 2018 after 28 years of marriage.

He is survived by six sons, two from each of his three marriages.
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