Ric Ocasek, lead singer of the iconic New wave rock band The Cars, passed away at the age of 75.

Ric Ocasek’s family is opening up about the death of The Cars frontman.

In a statement released Monday, Paula Porizkova, the rocker’s wife of nearly 30 years, said the rocker died “peacefully” in his sleep.

“Ric was at home recuperating very well after surgery,” Porizkova, said in an Instagram post. “Our two sons, Jonathan and Oliver, and I were making sure he was comfortable, ordering food and watching TV together. I found him still asleep when bringing him his Sunday morning coffee. I touched his cheek to rouse him. It was then I realized that during the night he had peacefully passed on.”

New York Police Detective Martin Brown confirmed to USA TODAY that police were called to Ocasek’s residence around 4 p.m. EDT Sunday. “Upon arrival, police found a 75-year-old male unresponsive in bed,” Brown said. “He was pronounced dead at the scene.” 

The Office of Chief Medical Examiner in New York concluded Monday that Ocasek died of natural causes, determining that hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease was the cause of death, with pulmonary emphysema a contributing condition.

That means he suffered from high blood pressure, a chronic lung condition and a buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in his arteries.

More: Ric Ocasek, lead singer for The Cars, found dead at 75; cause of death determined

“We appreciate the great outpouring of love,” Porizkova continued. “We, his family and friends, are completely and utterly devastated by his untimely and unexpected death and would appreciate the privacy to mourn in private.” The post was signed, “From the Ocasek Family.”

The Cars, a Boston quintet famed for hits like “Drive,” “Shake It Up” and “Just What I Needed,” broke through in 1978, and Ocasek, Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes, David Robinson and Benjamin Orr were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. (Orr, the band’s original bassist and singer, died of pancreatic cancer in 2000.)

Ocasek never stopped marveling at the spectacle of pop stardom. 

“It’s a long way from standing by a phone booth in the rain in Cambridge waiting for a call from L.A. to see if someone listened to our demo,” he told USA TODAY in 1987. “The first time you ever see your name in print, when you have nothing else, you can live on that for months, even if they spelled it wrong. Later, all the successes that mount up are extremely easy to forget. You can’t go back and live on those.”

The Cars split up in the late ’80s, then reunited in 2011 with much fanfare, after Ocasek found himself with a new batch of songs and a sense that they required company.

“Life is short,” he told USA TODAY while promoting the group’s album “Move Like This.” “I knew it would be more interesting than if I got anybody else.”

Ocasek understood that fans embraced them for the band’s signature sound, conceding that The Cars’ tunes “all have a similar quality. I broke it down once to be about six different songs that we do, and they’re all variations on a theme,” he said.

But he was a pop contradiction, churning out mainstream radio hits while producing and listening to bands like Suicide and Skinny Puppy.

 “I’m not so intrigued with the American pop format, even though I fit into it quite comfortably,” he told USA TODAY. “I’m more intrigued with some of the esoteric music, because there are no real new ideas in American pop.”

Ocasek and Porizkova split last year. The couple met when she starred in the video for 1984’s “Drive.”


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“Our family has always been — and still is — a well-built car. When the four of us are together, we can go wherever the road takes us,” she wrote on Instagram in announcing their breakup in May 2018. “But as a bicycle, my husband and I no longer pedal in unison. So, we’re ditching the bicycle.” 

She added: “The photos of our happy family are, in fact, happy family photos; we are just no longer a couple. The love we have for one another is so wide and deep it’s practically intangible, and that sort of love can never disappear. Expect to keep seeing happy family photos.”

Contributing: Elysa Gardner and Edna Gundersen


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