After the sad news broke of the death of The Cars’ frontman Ric Ocasek, fans have been celebrating his life by re-sharing footage of his last performance with the band.
In the early hours of this morning, it was confirmed that the art-rock pioneer had been found dead at his home at East 19th Street in New York. He was 75-years-old.
The Killers’ Brandon Flowers was among those leading tributes to Ocasek today, dubbing the frontman as “his first king”. This comes after Flowers inducted the band into the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame back in 2018 – their first performance in seven years Ocasek’s last public performance with The Cars before his death. Watch footage from the evening below.
“The Cars had it all: the looks, the hooks, Beat-romance lyrics, killer choruses, guitar solos that pissed off your parents, dazzling music videos,” said Flowers in his speech. “Not to mention the best song in any movie scene that featured a girl slowly getting out of a pool and taking her top off. That’s right. I’ll take ‘Moving In Stereo’ over the Star Wars theme any day.
“In the ’70s and ’80s they were able to exist in that highly coveted sweet spot where credibility and acclaim meets huge commercial success. Now, I was born in ’81 but I’ve seen Boogie Nights. And, as I understand it, while everybody else was sweating it up on the dance floor in their polyester suits or fighting it out in the punk clubs, these guys cruised in and made you look like you were working too hard.”
His speech also saw him honour Ocasek as “one of the world’s most enigmatic frontmen, with his cool, detached vocals – an inscrutable Dylan and Velvets fan with a very stylish jacket pocket full of power choruses.”
Flowers concluded: “We thank the Cars: Ric, Benjamin, David, Greg and Elliot. We are standing on the shoulders of giants. This band means so much to me and millions of others.”
Their appearance saw Scott Shriner from Weezer stand in for late bassist Ben Orr for the performance – where they played the run of classics ‘My Best Friend’s Girl’, ‘You Might Think’, ‘Moving In Stereo’ and ‘Just What I Needed’.
“I just want to start off with a little known fact about The Cars,” started Ocasek during his acceptance speech. “When we started the band Ben was supposed to be the lead singer and I was supposed to be the good-looking guy in the band. But after the first gig that changed. I got demoted to just the songwriter.
“It’s hard not to notice that Benjamin Orr is not here. He would have been elated to be on this stage, receiving this award, in his hometown. It feels quite strange to be up here without him, and we miss and love him dearly. We want to thank the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voters for inducting us. We like being abducted.”
The Cars’ Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame setlist was:
My Best Friend’s Girl
You Might Think
Moving in Stereo
Just What I Needed
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’. Ocasek also became known for producing bands like Suicide, Bad Brains, and later The Cribs, Weezer, Bad Religion, No Doubt and Guided by Voices, among others.