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Ric Ocasek, new wave pioneer and lead singer of The Cars, found dead at home

  • Author: John Annese, David Matthews, New York Daily News
  • Updated: September 16
  • Published September 16

FILE - In this April 14, 2018, file photo, Ric Ocasek, from the Cars, performs during the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction ceremony in Cleveland. Ocasek, famed frontman for The Cars rock band, has been found dead in a New York City apartment. The New York City police department said officers responding to a 911 call found the 75-year-old Ocasek on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/David Richard, File)

NEW YORK -- Ric Ocasek, lead singer of rock band The Cars, died Sunday in his townhouse on Manhattan’s East Side. He was 75.

The 75-year-old was found in bed by his supermodel wife, Paulina Porizkova, at about 4 p.m., police sources said.

Police do not suspect foul play, and the city medical examiner's office will determine his cause of death, cops said.

Fans left flowers outside the home on Sunday night.

Porzikova announced last year that she and Ocasek "peacefully separated."

They were married on St. Barts in 1989 and have two sons, Jonathan and Oliver.

At their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2018, The Cars were described as "hook-savvy with the perfect combo of new wave and classic rock."

The Cars sold more 23 million albums in the U.S. alone in their heyday, which lasted from 1976 to 1988. They had more than a dozen Top 40 hits, four of which -- "Drive," "Shake It Up," "Tonight She Comes" and "You Might Think" -- landed in the Top 10.

Ocasek met Porzikova in 1984 while recording a video for "Drive."

At the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Ocasek paid tribute to Benjamin Orr , the band's co-founder, who died in 2000.

"When the band first started, Ben was supposed to be the lead singer and I was supposed to be the good looking guy in the band," Ocasek said at the Cleveland ceremony. "But after a couple of gigs I kind of got demoted to the songwriter, so I went with that one."

Despite The Cars' success, Ocasek was skeptical that he and the band would make the Hall of Fame.

“It has a lot to do with the TV aspect now. ... With the old Rock and Roll of Famers, we went in and there was a little dinner, and it was on video,” he told the Daily News in October 2017, when he and The Cars were nominated for the third time.

“Now, it’s an HBO thing or whatever it is. ... They’re thinking which bands can we program here to do the live thing. And it’s a little different than it used to be.”

Ocasek, who was born Ritchard Otcasek in Baltimore, got interested in music as a teenager.

"I heard this song on the radio called 'That'll Be the Day' by Buddy Holly and I thought, you know I have to start playing guitar," he said at the Hall of Fame Ceremony.

In 1970, he and Orr joined a Boston band called Milkwood, and the two split from the group to form their own bands before founding The Cars in 1976.

The band made the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in 1979 and 1980, the latter for an article noting that Ocasek’s “air of coolness has made for a character who seems frequently mysterious and impenetrable -- a man who, given the option, would probably rather stare down an audience than accept its applause.”

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