Ric Ocasek, the lead singer of the rock band The Cars, died Sunday in New York; he was found unresponsive Sunday afternoon at his townhouse in Manhattan. A New York Police Department spokesman confirmed Ocasek’s death to NPR. There is some confusion about Ocasek’s age: The NYPD is of the opinion that he was 75; while public records differ with a figure of 70 years old.
On Monday, the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner told NPR in a statement that Ocasek died of heart disease, specifically hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, with pulmonary emphysema as a contributing condition. (OCME also lists the singer’s age as 75.)
The Cars band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last-year 2018; the Rock Hall dubbed The Cars “the ultimate New Wave dream machine: a hook-savvy super-charged quintet that fused 60s pop, 70s glam and avant-rock minimalism into a decade of dashboard-radio nirvana.”
Ocasek — The Cars’ lead singer, guitarist and songwriter — was born in Baltimore (as Richard Otcasek) and raised in Cleveland. He co-founded the group with Benjamin Orr, a bassist and vocalist with whom he had begun playing in Ohio. The two began traveling as a duo before landing in Boston. The Cars came together in 1976 with three other musicians: guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboard player Greg Hawkes and drummer David Robinson.