Ric Ocasek, the co-founder and principle songwriter for The Cars, the iconic 1970s and 1980s New Wave rock band, died at 75-years-old on Sunday, as The Inquisitr reported.
Following the breakup of The Cars in the late 1980s, Ocasek went on to a solo career that saw him release seven albums. He also served as producer for such New Wave and punk bands as Weezer, Bad Brains, and Nada Surf. Ocasek never duplicated his success with The Cars, either creatively, or in terms of commercial success, a Variety obituary for Ocasek noted.
Ocasek founded the band that would evolve into The Cars with Benjamin Orr — who died in 2000 of pancreatic cancer — in Columbus, Ohio, in the late 1960s. But it was not until 1976 that the pair relocated to Boston, Massachusetts, and quickly made an impact on the thriving local music scene there.
A demo tape of the Ocasek-penned tune that would become later be re-recorded as their debut single, “Just What I Needed,” received heavy airplay on Boston’s leading FM radio rock station, WBCN. The song “electrified the whole city,” according to The Boston Globe, and set The Cars on their path to stardom.
A nine-song demo led to the release of their eponymous debut album in June of 1978, according to Variety. That album spawned three hit singles and reached No. 18 on the Billboard album charts.
Here are five of Ocasek’s best Cars songs, in no particular order.
“JUST WHAT I NEEDED”
Called a “near perfect song” by Ultimate Classic Rock, The Cars’ debut single from their debut album was “fresh enough for new wavers, but traditional enough for classic rockers,” UCR wrote, a combination that remained crucial to The Cars’ appeal throughout their career as a band.
An archetypal teenage anthem, the first track on — and first single from — The Cars’ second LP, Candy-O, pays tribute to a free-spirited teenage girl who “loves the nightlife, Baby,” but refuses again and again to go on a date with the lead singer of the tune.
“MY BEST FRIEND’S GIRL”
Another song of unrequited love, or at least unrequited lust, “My Best Friend’s Girl” was another hit single from The Cars’ debut album. Ocasek, in interviews, always swore that the song’s story of longing for the girlfriend of his “best friend” was pure fiction, and not based on any events in his own life.
“BYE BYE LOVE”
Despite swiping a title from a classic by The Everly Brothers, Ocasek’s “Bye Bye Love” was completely his own, and The Cars’, creation — and was another classic track from the band’s 1978 debut.
“GOOD TIMES ROLL”
Again giving a nod and a wink to a 1950s rock and roll classic, this time by Jerry Lee Lewis, “Good Times Roll” turns the rock and roll cliché on its head with, as UCR put it “sardonic lyrics full of scorn for the supposed good times.”