The Cars’ Ric Ocasek, a Boston rock icon, has died at the age of 75

Photo Credit: Jeff Albertson, via Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
 
 

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Ric Ocasek, frontman of Boston new wave pioneers The Cars, creative genius, and acclaimed record producer whose career lasted decades, has died, according to reports. He was 75.

Ocasek, who founded the Cars in 1976 and saw he and his bandmates inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018, was found unconscious and unresponsive yesterday (September 15) at a New York City townhouse on East 19th Street. According to CNN, Ocasek was pronounced dead at the scene.

Exploding out of Boston’s music scene of the mid- to late-70s, The Cars’ storied career fused rock and roll weirdness with pop hooks and melodies that resonated with the mainstream, with 13 Top 40 singles and four Top 10 albums until their 1988 breakup. A staple of MTV and music’s new wave, the band enjoyed significant success with singles like “Drive,” “Shake It Up,” and “Just What I Needed.”

Born in Baltimore, Ocasek was also a respected producer, with his resume boasting Bad Brains’ Rock for Light, Suicide’s sophomore album Suicide: Alan Vega and Martin Rev, and a trio of Weezer LP’s: their 1994 debut “blue album,” 2001’s “green album, and 2014’s Everything Will Be Alright in the End. He also worked with Hole, Bad Religion, Nada Surf, Guided by Voices, No Doubt, Jonathan Richman, Le Tigre, and countless others.

“The Weezer family is devastated by the loss of our friend and mentor Ric Ocasek, who passed away Sunday,” wrote Weezer last night. “We will miss him forever, & will forever cherish the precious times we got to work and hang out with him. Rest in Peace & rock on Ric, we love you.”

“The Weezer family is devastated by the loss of our friend and mentor Ric Ocasek, who passed away Sunday,” wrote Weezer last night. “We will miss him forever, & will forever cherish the precious times we got to work and hang out with him. Rest in Peace & rock on Ric, we love you.”

Music writer Annie Zaleski wrote that Ocasek was a “pop genius who provided the jitter and ice to The Cars to balance out Ben Orr’s warmth. Huge loss.” Added David Thorpe, also via Twitter: “The Cars were one of the only bands punks and jocks could agree on. My friend Bobby once said ‘having The Cars’ greatest hits is enough to get you invited to parties.'”

Wrote John Pareles in the New York Times: “From 1978 to 1988, Ocasek and the Cars merged a vision of romance, danger and nocturnal intrigue and the concision of new wave with the sonic depth and ingenuity of radio-friendly rock. The Cars managed to please both punk-rock fans and a far broader pop audience, reaching into rock history while devising fresh, lush extensions of it.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes The Cars as “hook-savvy with the perfect combo of new wave and classic rock,” while adding that “you can’t help but sing along to The Cars.”

RIP.