NEW YORK – Ric Ocasek, the lead singer of ’80s American rock band The Cars, died on Sunday in his Manhattan apartment, according to police.
Ocasek, who led the new wave rock movement from the late-1970s and throughout the ’80s, was found unconscious in his New York apartment by his ex-wife Paulina Porizkova. No exact cause of death was known as of Sunday evening.
Ocasek’s age at the time of death is unclear, with public records stating he was 70 but other reporting suggesting he was 75.
The co-founder of The Cars spearheaded the new wave movement throughout a decade that saw the band sell more than a million copies of each of its five albums. With “Just What I Needed” – their first hit single in 1987 – or “Drive” in 1984, the band captivated audiences worldwide, earning it induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year.
Born Richard Theodore Otcasek in Baltimore, Maryland, he dropped the “t” from his stage name due to a printing error in one of his first interviews.
“The first time you ever see your name in print, when you have nothing else, you can live on that for months, even if they spelled it wrong,” he told USA Today in 1987.
The rockstar’s melodic vocals often transitioned into powerful choruses that gave the band’s songs a distinctive kick and attracted listeners with a wide range of musical tastes.
“I’m happy that the pop songs have a bit of a twist. When I’m writing, I never know how it’s going to come out. I don’t think, well, I’ve done a catchy one, now I can do a weird one,” he told the New York Times in 1987.
Following his rise to fame with the group, the frontman embarked on a solo career in 1988 when The Cars disbanded. Individually he saw wavering success, with his last album “Nexterday” released in 2005 receiving mixed reviews.
The singer was thrice married and is survived by his children Oliver, Adam, Johnathan, Christopher, Eron and Derek.