Ric Ocasek died of heart disease.

The frontman for the Cars was found dead on Sept. 15 in his New York apartment by his estranged wife, Paulina Porizkova. He'd recently undergone an unnamed surgical procedure; she described his death as "unexpected and untimely," as he was expected to make a full recovery.

According to the Daily News, New York City's medical examiner has determined that the cause of death was hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Ocasek also suffered from pulmonary emphysema, which also contributed to his death.

The Cars practically defined the sound of New Wave with their self-titled debut in June 1978, only a year and a half after playing their first show. Even though Ocasek traded lead vocals with bassist Benjamin Orr, who died in 2000, he wrote virtually of the material found on the six albums the band released until its breakup in 1988, all of which went gold or better. They reunited in 2011 for Move Like This and then again in 2018 for the Cars' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

While Ocasek's solo career, which began before the band split up, didn't live up to the commercial peaks of his group work, he found great success as a producer. Ocasek often worked with underground acts like Suicide and Bad Brains, and had a hand in shaping the sound of mid-'90s alternative rock as producer of Weezer's self-titled debut album and Nada Surf's High/Low.

He also dabbled in other media, including drawing and photography, and published a collection of poetry in 1993. He also made a brief appearance as a beatnik in John Waters' 1988 movie Hairspray.

Ocasek and Porizkova met in 1984 when she was hired to appear in the video for the Orr-sung "Drive"; they married five years later. The couple separated amicably in 2017, with Porizkova waiting a year to make an official statement. They have two sons, Jonathan and Oliver.

 

Ric Ocasek Through the Years

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