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Rest in Peace, Ric Ocasek of the Cars, a Musical Force of Undeniable and Far-Reaching Influence

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Tremendously sad news came through the wires on Sunday when it was reported that Ric Ocasek, lead singer of the Cars, has died at the age of 75.

NBC New York reported that Ocasek was found unresponsive at his residence early Sunday morning:

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.

UPDATE: On Monday, Ocasek’s family shared a statement about his passing via social media.

Posted by The Cars on Monday, September 16, 2019

In 2018, Ocasek and the Cars were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, rewarding a legacy of music that has influenced countless acts in their wake and left an indelible mark on the music industry as a whole.

The Killers’ front man, Brandon Flowers, who inducted the Cars into the Hall of Fame, had a lot more to say:

While Weezer, whose self-titled Blue and Green albums were produced by Ocasek, issued this heartfelt remembrance:

As you might expect given the astronomical influence Ocasek had on plenty of musicians, tributes poured out on social media after the sad news made headlines.

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Devastated to hear of the passing on this man, Ric Ocasek. It has brightened my spirit to see how many have posted about Ric, praising his originality, flair, and brilliance. I was blessed to have known him, through friendship and work (his solo album Troubilizing was one I produced). It's hard to share the measure of a man in so few words, because, despite his greatness, Ric was open and down to earth in a way that surprised me. And in that allowed our private conversations to flow and float over 100's of topics (I was mostly interested in what he loved): the Cars, of course, his children and marriage to an eastern siren whom the world (he was aware) didn't think he deserved (he did, and she him), his guitars, Andy Warhol the person and not the myth, Boston (the city), new wave, deco art, NYC living, producing Weezer, being an A + R man, why he got out of the rat race of making hit records, Mutt Lange, grunge, and on and on and on. He's opine easy and I'd listen (for a change). Such pleasurable times I didn't fully appreciate until decades later. Lastly, two things: Ric did me a great honor when he recorded a song I'd written just for him, questioning none of it except it's quirky title (I'd gone quirky as a wry tribute). And a small memory I'll share: we were in Ric's basement, where he had a small, ad hoc studio for writing. And I was asking him a 1000th question on The Cars; in this case, the sound of the keyboard solos. He pointed at a relic. 'Well, that's it' he said. 'THE keyboard', said I? It was, and ironically at that moment Greg Hawkes stopped by and he demonstrated all those great sounds! But then I went for broke. I wanted Ric to show me how to play 'Best Friend's Girlfriend'. He picked up a guitar, played it perfectly (he was an ace guitarist) and handed it over. The sound, I noted, was exact. It was the pink Fender pictured above, and I dutifully played the opening riff as he'd showed. So what was the guitar, I asked? Ric pointed at the flamingo in my hands. My jaw dropped. It was THE guitar! Love you Ric! Gonna miss you forever

A post shared by WilliamPatrickCorgan (@williampcorgan) on

 

Speaking about the lasting impact of the Cars’ 1978 debut album, guitarist Elliot Easton summed it up as follows:

Somehow our music was accessible to a lot of people without us making any real concessions to commerciality or trying to calculate what would sell or compromising in any way. We just kept on being us, and people liked it on a large scale.

This was all made possible by the inimitable presence of Ocasek, an industry legend who will be sorely missed among all who came into contact with the Cars’ music and those who have yet to discover them.

May he rest in peace, and may his music with the Cars live on forever.

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