Ric Ocasek, singer and guitarist of The Cars, has died. He was 75 years old.
After receiving a call around 4pm on Sunday (September 15), police found the musician unconscious in a townhouse on East 19th Street in New York, NBC 5 reported. He was found in his bed and pronounced dead on the scene, according to Pitchfork. Ocasek’s identity was later confirmed by law enforcement sources.
Ocasek was born March 23, 1944 in Baltimore, Maryland, and moved with his family to Cleveland, Ohio as a teenager. That was where he first met bassist/singer Benjamin Orr, with whom he would collaborate in several bands, including Milkwood and Capn’ Swing. They formed The Cars in Boston in 1976 with guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboardist Greg Hawkes and drummer David Robinson (formerly of The Modern Lovers).
The new wave band found swift success with albums like ‘The Cars’ (1978), ‘Candy-O’ (1979) and ‘Heartbeat City’ (1984). The Cars broke up in 1988, but they reunited in 2010 to record an album, ‘Move Like This’. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year.
Ocasek also became known for producing bands like Suicide, Bad Brains, and, in the 90s, Weezer, Bad Religion, No Doubt and Guided by Voices, among others.
His sons also paid tribute in an emotional post which read: “Our dad was a prolific doodler. His passing was sudden, unexpected, and beyond heartbreaking. Yesterday, we found this last doodle on his armchair. He couldn’t have known what it would end up meaning to us. We love him so much.”
Tributes to the frontman have continued to pour in on social media, from Weezer, Courtney Love, Jason Isbell, Billy Idol and other musicians. See some of those messages below.
The weezer family is devastated by the loss of our friend and mentor Ric Ocasek, who passed away Sunday. We will miss him forever, & will forever cherish the precious times we got to work and hang out with him. Rest in Peace & rock on Ric, we love you. #RIPRicOcasek #karlscorner pic.twitter.com/JcTXevr6V8
— weezer (@Weezer) September 16, 2019
— Billy Idol (@BillyIdol) September 16, 2019
So good, and sounded unlike anybody else https://t.co/TGxfu2zCfU
— Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) September 16, 2019
We’ve lost another one of the greats.
Ric Ocasek….Rest In Peace.
— Mark Morton (@MarkDuaneMorton) September 16, 2019
Ric Ocasek, one of the most gifted songwriter/ producers of the post-punk era has passed. He was so kind and his music was a gift to us all. Thank you for the hooks and the music, Ric. https://t.co/XFncilymB3
— Brian Ray (@brianrayguitar) September 16, 2019
Love to u and your family Ric Ocasek, you’re a lovely man
— patrick_wilson (@patrick_wilson) September 16, 2019
The Killers’ Brandon Flowers also hailed Ocasek as his “first king”.
“I just wanted to reach out and make you aware of my gratitude for you and your bands contribution to my life,” wrote Flowers.
“My family was visiting my sister Amy in Layton Utah when I was 13 or so. Her husband Kenny was stationed there at the air base. While we were out one day running errands and getting a feel for the town, my mother Jeannie gave me 10 bucks to buy a cassette for the ride home. It was a rite of passage!
Feeling grateful for Ric. Had the opportunity to send him this email a couple years back. My first king. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
“All my buddies at that time were listening to grunge or gangster rap. I didn’t feel like much of a gangster and I was too tender for the heavy stuff. I knew exactly what I wanted. My brother Shane was 12 years older than me and would play me bits and pieces of his record collection when I’d stay with him on occasional weekends. Independence and even adrenaline rushed through me on my way to the register to purchase The Cars Greatest Hits.
“It set me on the path towards the adult I would become, towards the job I have (which is the greatest job in the world), even towards the woman that I would be blessed to marry.
“So… THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!”