Just a couple of days after we lost Eddie Money, Ric Ocasek is gone, too.
His estranged wife, former supermodel, Paulina Porizkova, found him unconsciousness and unresponsive–he appeared to have died in his sleep– in his bed at his NYC townhouse in Gramercy Park on East 19th Street at around 4:14 pm Sunday afternoon. He was pronounced dead at the scene by EMS techs.
UPDATE: The NYC Chief Medical Examiner announced late Monday (September 16) that the cause of death cardiac arrest brought on by heart disease (“hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.) Emphysema was a contributing factor. In the words, natural causes. What surgery was he recovering from? We don’t know.
From Ric’s sons: Our dad was a prolific doodler. His passing was sudden, unexpected, and beyond heartbreaking. Yesterday, we found this last doodle on his armchair. He couldn’t have known what it would end up meaning to us. We love him so much. pic.twitter.com/bJNpXSQgDO— The Cars (@thecarsband) September 16, 2019
Ocasek–born Richard Theodore Otcask (yes, that’s how is last name was originally spelled)–was best known as the frontman of The Cars who emerged out of Boston (est. 1976) with a 1978 debut album to become one of the biggest New Wave bands. That first record was one of the most solid of the era. No one else sounded like them thanks to Ocasek’s yelpy voice (a novelty for the time), the sparse, sharp-edged guitars, and spare, tasteful keyboard lines. Production came from Roy Thomas Baker, the band who helped Queen refine their sound.
The Cars were a bit of an oddity, too. They were one of the few bands that ended up straddling both the alternative and mainstream rock world. Today, music from the earlier part of the career works both as classic rock and classic alternative.
The Cars released multi-platinum six albums before breaking up in 1987. Ocasek then worked as a solo performer, releasing seven albums. More importantly, he found his stride as a producer for bands like Weezer–three times including the brilliant “blue” album–Guided by Voices, No Doubt, Bad Brains, and many others.
He and Porizkova had been married for 28 years before separating in 2018. He’s survived by six children from three different wives. The townhouse in which he was living was up for sale for US$15 million
A good career retrospective can be found at Variety.