Remembering Ric Ocasek: Celebrating the Cars Frontman on What Would Have Been His 80th

Published March 22, 2024

Ric Ocasek, the emblematic frontman of the New Wave band The Cars, would have turned 80 this year, specifically on March 23, 1944. His journey with The Cars, as the lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and key songwriter, concluded when he passed away at the age of 75 from natural causes in his New York City home in September 2019. Yet, his legacy within the music scene stretches beyond The Cars, encompassing his time with other bands, his solo ventures, and his work as a record producer.

Not Originally from Boston, Ocasek Made It His Band's Home

Although associated with Boston, Ric Ocasek's birthplace was Baltimore, and he moved to Cleveland with his family at 16. It was in Cleveland where he met Benjamin Orr, and they later pursued music together in Ohio before eventually setting out for Boston's music scene in the early 1970s.

Before The Cars, There Was Folk-Rock

In Boston, Ocasek and Orr formed a folk group named Milkwood, which disbanded after one album. They went through a series of band changes, eventually leading to a revamped lineup that became The Cars, with Ocasek at the helm.

Chart-Topping Success and Platinum Records

The Cars enjoyed a prosperous career, securing over a dozen Top 40 hits—all penned by Ocasek—and multiple platinum albums, attesting to their commercial appeal and the enduring quality of their work.

Branching Out: Ric Ocasek as Producer

Alongside his success with The Cars, Ocasek also made his mark as a record producer, collaborating with an array of artists including Weezer, thus influencing a wider spectrum of the music industry.

An Indelible Last Performance

The final public performance by Ocasek was with The Cars at their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2018. It was a poignant moment, especially as he recognized his late bandmate Benjamin Orr, who had passed away in 2000.

music, legend, tribute