Ric Ocasek, the former lead singer of the iconic new wave band The Cars, died from heart disease with emphysema as a contributing factor.
That’s the word from the Medical Examiner in New York City, who has completed an autopsy on the iconic rocker, TMZ reports. Meanwhile, Ocasek’s estranged wife, the supermodel Paulina Porizkova, released a heartbreaking family statement on Instagram. It revealed that Ocasek was recovering from a recent surgery and that Paulina realized he had passed away when she touched his cheek.
Ocasek, of course, was the gangly singer and songwriter who helped propel The Cars to stardom. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after producing a string of top hits, some of the most memorable songs of the 1980s and in rock history. They include “My Best Friend’s Girl,” “Good Times Roll,” “Let’s Go,” “Bye Bye Love,” “Shake It Up” and “Drive.”
Ocasek was found dead in his Manhattan home on the afternoon of September 15, 2019, a Sunday, the New York Police Department confirmed to Heavy. Police say that Ocasek was found “in his bed unconscious and unresponsive” and that the call came in around 4 p.m. on September 15, 2019 for a male in need of aid inside a residence at East 19th Street. Page Six reports that Ocasek was found by the supermodel Porizkova, who is his estranged third wife.
Here’s what you need to know:
Porizkova Says Ric’s Family Was Making Sure He Was Comfortable After Surgery the Night Before He Died
According to Porizkova’s statement on Instagram – which was signed by the Ocasek family – Ric’s death came as a shock, although he had recently undergone an unspecified surgery.
“Ric was at home recuperating very well after surgery. Our two sons, Jonathan and Oliver, and I were making sure he was comfortable, ordering food and watching TV together,” she wrote.
“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. We appreciate the great outpouring of love. 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.”
Paulina also posted a photo of flowers people left outside Ocasek’s townhouse. “Thank you,” she wrote.
Ocasek’s Cause of Death Was Cardiovascular Disease
It’s now been revealed that Ocasek died from cardiovascular disease – specifically “hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, also called atherosclerosis, which is an accumulation of plaque in the arteries that can weaken the heart’s muscle. The autopsy also noted pulmonary emphysema as a contributing factor,” Daily Variety revealed.
His death was ruled natural, and he had suffered cardiac arrest, according to NBC News.
Ocasek’s full name was Richard Otcasek, and he was born in Baltimore, Maryland, but he spent his formative teenage years in Cleveland, Ohio, and The Cars were founded in Boston.
In his Hall of Fame acceptance speech, he thanked his “wheel-chaired grandmother” for forcing him to sing at age 5 and for buying him the guitar from Sears and Roebuck, although he said she gave him the guitar when he was 14 years old. In the same speech, he also spoke movingly about the man with whom he was later to found The Cars: Benjamin Orr. “It’s hard not to notice that (The Cars’) Benjamin Orr is not here. He would have been elated to be here on this stage. It feels quite strange to be up here without him. We miss him and love him dearly,” Ocasek said from the stage. Orr died of pancreatic cancer at age 53 in 2000.
Ocasek’s dad was a systems analyst for NASA, The New York Times reported. The Baltimore Sun reported that Ocasek moved from Baltimore at age 16, and his father also served in the Air Force. The Sun reported that he was expelled from Immaculate Heart of Mary School because he “gave the nuns a hard time verbally.”
Still, he added, according to the Sun: “I was a total Baltimore kid. I dyed my hair blond in the front, went to Ocean City, and lived that whole thing. I have extremely fond memories of it.”
He became interested in music as a teenager, listening to Buddy Holly & the Crickets. Soon he was in Boston starting bands, and the rest is music history.