The Cars Frontman Ric Ocasek Dies
The Cars frontman Ric Ocasek died today at age 70 (though some sources claim he was 75.)
According to Page Six, Ocasek was "discovered unconscious and unresponsive" in his New York City apartment this afternoon by his estranged wife, Paulina Porizkova. The report states that he appears to have died of natural causes.
Ocasek formed the Cars in Boston in 1976 with bassist and singer Benjamin Orr, guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboardist Greg Hawkes and drummer David Robinson. They played their first show on New Year's Eve that year, and in 1978 released their self-titled debut album.
It was an immediate hit, reaching No. 18 on the albums chart and spawning a trio of popular singles: "Just What I Needed," "My Best Friend's Girl" and "Good Times Roll." They were also praised by critics, who found their blend of synth-driven New Wave sounds and classic-rock throwbacks a refreshing mix of old and new styles at the end of the decade.
Their second album, Candy-O, was released the following year, followed by Panorama in 1980 and Shake It Up in 1981. But it was their fifth album, 1984's Heartbeat City, that became a commercial milestone for the Cars. The record reached No. 3 on the chart, and included the Top 10 hits "You Might Think" and "Drive," which peaked at No. 3, the band's highest showing.
The video for "You Might Think" snagged the first-ever Video of the Year at the MTV Music Awards in 1984. But by 1988, after one more album, the Cars broke up, and Ocasek released the first of his seven solo albums. In the '90s, Ocasek produced LPs by Bad Brains, Guided by Voices and others, but his most famous work was production on Weezer's hit Blue and Green albums. The surviving Cars got together in 2011 for a well-received final album named Move Like This, which was followed by a brief tour.
He also made headlines for his marriage to model Paulina Porizkova, who was 18 when they first met when the Cars shot the video for "Drive" in 1984. They married five years later and eventually had two sons. They separated in 2017 but remained friends.
A year later, the surviving members of the band reunited when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (Orr died of cancer at the age of 53 in 2000.)