Ric Ocasek, a founding member of The Cars, the seminal late 1970s and 1980s “new wave” rock band, was found dead in his $15 million Manhattan townhouse at about 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, September 15, according to a report by WNBC TV News. Ocasek was 75-years-old.
His death comes just 17 months after Ocasek and The Cars were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a ceremony at which the surviving band members paid tribute to the band’s co-founder, Benjamin Orr, who died in October of 2000, at age 53, as The Inquisitr reported. Barely more than a year after receiving that honor, The Cars have lost their other co-founder, who also served as lead singer and chief songwriter on most of the group’s hits.
While the cause of Ocasek’s death has not been released, sources told The New York Post that the iconic Cars frontman passed away due to natural causes.
Ocasek was one of the most successful and influential songwriters to emerge from the new wave scene, the more pop-oriented wave of bands that were influenced by the punk rock movement that peaked in 1977 and 1978. His life was also notable for his enduring marriage to supermodel Paulina Porizkova, whom he married in 1989. The couple announced their separation in 2018, after nearly 30 years together.
It was Porizkova who discovered Ocasek unconscious on Sunday in the apartment on 19th Street in New York City’s upscale Gramercy Park district, according to the New York Post report.
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The Cars released six albums between 1978 and 1987, “five of which are good-to-great,” according to AV Club music critic Erik Adams, in a Cars retrospective article published in 2018.
“[The Cars] helped smuggle new wave into the mainstream, layering futuristic synths and angular stabs of post-punk guitar over the irresistible melodies of primary songwriter Ric Ocasek,” Adams wrote.
In their remarkable decade-long run, The Cars turned out 13 singles that charted in the Billboard Top 40, WNBC reported. After The Cars dissolved as a band, Ocasek transitioned into a successful career as a producer for other artists, and though he consistently discouraged rumors of a Cars reunion — a possibility that appeared to end in 2000 with Orr’s death from pancreatic cancer — the remaining members did reunite and release a new album in 2011, titled, Move Like This.
Ocasek did finally perform one final time with fellow band members Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes, and David Robinson at the 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, a performance that was televised by HBO.