Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Ric Ocasek, lead singer of the rock band The Cars, died Sunday in New York at age 75.
Police said they received a call around 4 p.m. for an unconscious male at a townhouse on East 19th Street. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Law enforcement sources confirmed the deceased was Ocasek.
Ocasek and his band were inducted into the Rock Hall in 2018. The institution described the band as “hook-savvy with the perfect combo of new wave and classic rock.”
As with Eddie Money, Ocasek and the Cars were never among my absolute faves. Which does NOT mean I don’t have the greatest respect and admiration for their achievements, mind. Ocasek in particular had a real knack for putting melodies, lyrics, and arrangements together that turned into real earwigs, sticking in your brain like peanut butter on the roof of a dog’s mouth. Doing that once or twice is rare; doing it over and over again—song after song, album after album—as the Cars did, is something entirely else. Throw in Ocasek’s odd, strangling warble and his gawky-space-alien physical appearance and his success is nothing short of remarkable.
All in all, Ric Ocasek had to be just about the unlikeliest rock and roll frontman of his era, especially when you consider that his era was dominated by male-model hair farmer types like, oh, Vince Neil; Stephen Pearcy; Tom Keifer; Bret Michaels; and the man who ruined Deep Purple, David Coverdale. In that rogue’s gallery of rock and roll pretty boys, Ocasek sticks out as the “one of these things is not like the others” Alpha and Omega, in terms of both his music and his looks. His 28-year marriage to gorgeous supermodel Paulina Porizkova is just the icing on the cake when it comes to being a bona fide outlier among his fellow rockers. He was surely one of a kind.
Rest in peace, Ric.