Brow Beat

Ric Ocasek, Lead Singer for the Cars, Dead at 75

Ric Ocasek playing a guitar on stage.
Ric Ocasek performing at his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Ric Ocasek, the lead singer for legendary new wave band the Cars, died Sunday afternoon at the age of 75, New York’s WNBC reports. Police, responding to a report of an unconscious male at a Manhattan townhouse, pronounced Ocasek dead at the scene. No cause of death has been announced.

Ocasek formed the Cars in Boston in 1976 with his frequent collaborator Benjamin Orr, who died in 2000. The duo had previously played in the less-successful bands Milkwood, Richard and the Rabbits, and Cap’n Swing, but the fourth time was the charm. The Cars, the band’s 1978 debut album, charted thanks to instant classics including “Just What I Needed,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” and “Good Times Roll.” The band never had a number one single—1984’s “Drive” came closest, at #3—but they helped define the sound of the 1980s with hits like “Let’s Go,” “Shake It Up,” and “You Might Think.” They broke up for the first time in 1988—Ocasek was not involved in The New Cars, the touring group from the aughts including the other band members—but reunited in 2011 minus Orr, to release Move Like This, their final studio album. The Cars were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

Ocasek was famously married for years to model Paulina Porizkova, his third wife, whom he met in 1984 while filming the video for “Drive.” Porizkova revealed last spring that the couple had been separated for a year. Benjamin Orr sang “Drive,” and Ocasek isn’t in the video all that much, so instead, here’s the Ocasek-heavy music video for “You Might Think,” which won Video of the Year at the very first MTV Music Video Awards.

Ocasek is survived by six sons, two from each of his marriages.