The Cars’ Ric Ocasek Dead at 75

Ric Ocasek, best known as the founder and frontman of the iconic new wave and power pop band the Cars, has died. The New York Police Department confirmed to Pitchfork they responded to a call today that reported an unconscious man in a townhouse. The man, identified as Ocasek, was found in bed and pronounced dead at the scene. He was 75.

Ocasek was born in Baltimore. He and friend Benjamin Orr played in a number of bands before eventually officially forming the Cars in 1976. They released their self-titled debut album in 1978, which featured the hit singles “Good Times Roll,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” and “Just What I Needed.” Following five more albums and hits like “Drive” and “Shake It Up,” the group broke up in the late 1980s.

Starting with 1982’s Beatitude and ending with 2005’s Nexterday, Ocasek released a series of solo albums. His 1997 album Troublizing was co-produced with Billy Corgan and featured Hole’s Melissa Auf der Maur. He was also a producer of albums by artists including Weezer, Bad Brains, Suicide, Guided By Voices, No Doubt, the Cribs, Bad Religion, and others.

The musician and producer was also a pop culture fixture beyond music. He made a memorable appearance in John Waters’ Hairspray as a painter. He was an artist in real life, too, and his work was shown in galleries. He also wrote books, including the 1992 poetry collection Negative Theater. He was a regular guest on “The Colbert Report,” once calling out Todd Rundgren on the show (at a time when Rundgren was fronting the Cars under the name “the New Cars”). He appeared on the John Malkovich album. Ocasek made headlines in 2016 when he pulled his approval of a sample on Car Seat Headrest’s Teens of Denial, forcing Matador Records to destroy physical copies of the album.

In 2011, Ocasek and the reunited Cars released a new album called Move Like This. The Cars were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.



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