Cars lead singer Ric Ocasek dead at 75

The Cars‘ frontman Ric Ocasek has died at 75.

The Cars formed in Boston in 1976 and released six albums between 1978 and 1987 delivering 13 top 40 singles in America including top ten hits ‘Shake It Up,’ ‘You Might Think,’ ‘Drive’ and ‘Tonight She Comes’.

The band were always commercially more successful in the States than in Britain, but Heartbeat City‘s ‘Drive’ peaked at number four over here in 1984 after re-entering the chart as a result of the song being played against footage of the Ethiopian famine during the Live Aid concert. That song was written by Ric but sung by bassist Benjamin Orr, who co-founded the band with Ocasek.

Orr died in 2000 from pancreatic cancer but the remaining members were reunited for one final album in 2011, Move Like This.

Ric released seven solo albums (two issued before The Cars split in early 1988) but it was his work as a producer that kept him most busy. His credits in this area included Weezer, Hole, The Wannadies and The Cribs. Ric also remixed three tracks from Lloyd Cole and The Commotions‘ 1984 Rattlesnakes album, for the American version of the album.

Leave your thoughts on Ric and The Cars in the comments section. Everyone will have their favourite, but for me Heartbeat City album is a beautiful new wave classic. The title track and ‘Why Can’t I Have You’ being highlights for this writer.

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Jim Vandegrift

After listening to the 1st five l.p.’s this weekend i cannot recommend Think It Over more. Ben does Elvis to a great New Wave howler. Simply brilliant.

Tim Teipel

Of course when I was a teenager I was mostly attracted by “Hello Again” and “Drive”. But just recently I found out that “Heartbreak City” is my favourite song of them. It sums up the mood of the 80ies for me perfectly: Synthetic, yet very emotional and melancholic.

R.I.P. and thanks for the feelings!


“Heartbeat City”.

Not ‘Heartbreak”….

Just wanted to correct that.

And I agree. It took me decades until recently over the past few years have I realized how much I love that song.

Bill Davis

Ric also produced “Do the Collapse” from Guided by Voices. It’s still my favorite of theirs, trading murky lo-fi aesthetics for clear clean production which showed how good they really were. The main complaint from GBV was that Ric wouldn’t let them drink beer while they were working :-)

Andy Stones

It’s so nice to read all these comments and understand how special this man was to so many people.

I truly regret never having seen The Cars live but living in the UK I recall the tours were few and far between.

Strangely, I was attracted to this band by the picture disc singles(Best Friends Girl etc) and never bought an album until I bought Heartbeat City. Boy, what had I been missing out on! I only listened to Bye Bye Love for the first time about 5 years ago and what a track.

One of the true greats and I will treasure his music always.


Classic Ocasek moment at the Mountain Aire Festival – Calaveras County – June 23, 1984. The Cars were playing his solo song; Jimmy Jimmy. Ocasek is at the center of the stage playing a keyboard. Someone in the front of the crowd chucks a peach at him. It glances off his keyboard, hits him, and drops to the stage floor. He pauses his playing briefly, reaches down, picks up the peach, takes a bite out of it, sets it on his keyboard, and continues to play. No angry reaction. Cool calm collected and professional.

After seeing them on each tour in the late 70’s, early 80’s, I attended one of the 2011 Orr-less shows. Without that bass sound. Without that incredible voice. The Cars were just an ok band. The yin & yang between Ocasek and Orr will forever remain unforgettable.


The 75 years of age seems to have been erroneously reported by the police. Apparently Ric was 70. Still a huge loss either way.


Nope, I was wrong. Apparently Ric often stated he was younger than he actually was, thus the generally accepted (but incorrect) age thought to be 70.


Always recall The Cars for being one of the first picture discs with My Best Friend’s Girl.
On holiday in Edinburgh today and saw a Cars picture disc single from 82. ….had to buy it.
RIP Mr Ocasek


‘My Best Friends Girl’ was the first ever picture disc available commercially in the UK. If my memory serves me correct, there were a few different coloured versions.

Paul Taylor

Best Friend’s Girl was a red car on a white background.
Just What I Needed – Blue on light blue
Let’s Go – Green/light green
Double Life – Mauve/mauve

Shake It Up had a few variants


Both The Cars and Eddie Money we’re favorites of mine during this time period. It’s sad to see them both go this weekend. Damn, I must be officially getting old…

The Cars music was fresh and unique at the time and still is today. I was taken in the first time heard “Just What I Needed” was released and bought the album right away. In fact, bought all The Cars albums right when they came out.

Eddie Money’s music always spoke to me. Just simple blue collar music about everyday things. The songs always felt like you wrote them yourself. “Baby Hold On” and “Two Tickets to Paradise” were always my favorites. I saw him live a few times over the years. The first time was opening for the Michael Stanley Band around 1977 after the first his debut album was released. IIRC, John Cougar also played at that show. It was an incredible time for music.

I always thought the best version of “Two Tickets to Paradise” was the original single with the added guitar solo. It was not used on the album. It is on the Playlist (or was it Set List?) greatest hits album. If you have not heard it, check it out.

Mister Stick

I always thought The Cars pulled that great trick in pop: They showed up with an original sound that instantly seemed familiar. Here in the states, they were one of the ‘interceptors’… New wave bands that put a solid, remaining spike into mainstream rock radio.

Obviously, Ric was the brainpan, but what tools he had – Elliot Easton’s solos were exciting and incredibly catchy. The one in “All I Can Do” is in my head right now, and I haven’t heard the song in years. Ben Orr gave them a second voice (and a sex symbol), David Robinson produced a solid beat with snappy accents, and Greg Hawkes’s mono synth hooked them to the ‘skinny tie’ sound (as did his goggles and skinny ties). Everyone seemed to love The Cars’ first album, whether you were just coming back from a Tull concert or you were scrounging stores for Elvis Costello imports. They just had that ‘thing’ that clamped onto any rock fan, despite the post-modern art schemes that might otherwise turn off a Skynyrd or Boston fan.

Later, I discovered Ocasek had attended my university long before me. A guy in my dorm swore that Ric’s name was carved in a closet there. Sure enough, just about the time Heartbeat City hit #1, I was shown a penknife scratch in the room directly below mine – “R. Ocasek”.

That dorm still stands. This won;’t happen, the way things are now, but I wish somebody carves “RIP” underneath. And, on behalf of all the local fans, “…used to be OURS. Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

Charlie Waffles

My favorite album is Candy-O – Expanded Edition. The remastering is flawless.

RIP Ric.


Still waiting for release(now blu Ray) of long promised Ric greatest solo songs

The first tape I ever bought was Heartbeat City. I looked forward to all their videos and Why Can’t I Have You as the fifth single? Wow. Amazing. Such dark magnetism that spoke to me at a deep soul cellular level like no other. At some point I picked up a copy of the first two albums on one tape. Needless to say, there was no fast forwarding on that one. I love love love This Side of Paradise title track brings chills to my being. “ nobody’s getting off. We’re all in this together “

Such a sad sad time. Thank you Paul for this website. It is part of my daily routine and i appreciate you very much


Spiral Scar

Interestingly, 40 years ago on the Billboard charts dated Sept 15, 1979, “Let’s Go” was holding at its peak position of #14 (2nd of two weeks) on the Hot 100 singles and “Candy-O” was holding at its peak position of #3 (last of 4 weeks there) on the Top 200 Albums. The following week, they both started sliding down.


Panorama is one my all-time favorite albums!


ditto..Love Panomrama …still amazing with bonus tracks

Jim Vandegrift

Thanks Ric for being a big part of the soundtrack of my teenage years. The 1st 4 l.p.’s are new wave heaven. You knew your way around a tune. Thoughts are with your family. Rest easy and say hello to Ben.


The 80’s are Officially over.

One of my all-time favorite bands.
That’s a wrap. Gone.

The Cars were everywhere in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Along with Blondie,  Talking Heads, Romeo Void,  The Pretenders,  The Police….  The New Wave era was ushered in for the first time for some with “Just What I Needed” all over the radio.

That song would also be welcomed on Rock radio stations. But The Cars were no doubt a New Wave act.


Wow!  The Cars had an amazing string of Hits here in the U. S….  it reminds me of all the hits we heard on the radio over here from Blondie… The Cars were all over the radio in the early to mid-80’s. Back when New Wave music was new,  fresh and alive and well…

For some reason…  With all the past few 80’s icons that have passed away over recent years… David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Tom Petty,  Michael Jackson….

This guys death,  Ric,  this is hitting me the hardest. The Cars were and still are a part of the soundtrack to my life.


Johnny Spasm

I’ve always said the Ric is the greatest song writer ever. Even when he writes a goofy little dance song, he comes up with lines like, “Dance all night/Keep the beat/Don’t you worry about 2 left feet.” The Cars were intelligent music that never got pseudo intellectual. Their debut album belongs in conversations with Sgt. Pepper’s among the greatest albums ever made.


My favourite song is Touch and go. It’s a classic and an anthem!

thomas solimine

New Wave = The Cars

Larry Davis

Woah what a sad heavy week for this music fan…Ric & the Cars were definitely a HUGE part of my coming of age years & shaping my musical tastes…with powerpop, punk/new wave, Britpop sounds, and more…they somehow had a truly original sound that influenced tons of bands, yet no one was able to replicate, combined with amazing songwriting, musicianship & production…I am really happy Ric & the Cars really affected many people’s lives deeply and their catalogue aged very well, from of-its-time to truly timeless…I love everything they did, but my fave Cars song has to be “Dangerous Type”, espesh how the song flows at the end with the harmonies on “tonight, she’s a lot like you” with responding bells, just sublime…I knew their stuff as a kid, songs all over the place, loved em, but only first got a Cars album with Heartbeat City…then the 1985 Cars Greatest Hits…became hardcore after that…I remember being bummed more great songs were not included, so I made a mixtape called The Cars Greatest Hits Volume 2 with the missing hits and faves…then in 1995, the killer & highly recommended 2CD set comes out, exec produced by Ric…Just What I Needed, The Cars Anthology with that attention grabbing sparkly purple slipcase…collected all solo records too…This Side Of Paradise is classic, espesh track 5 with Tony Levin’s Chapman Stick all over it…then in 1997 and Troublizing & all-star band…I saw the brief tour in NYC with that whole band on stage, except Billy Corgan…Greg Hawkes was on keys & Ben’s bass parts & vocals were by Melissa Auf Der Maur, like on Drive, amazing…then I get backstage…met Ric & Greg, also Paulina (their kids who were younger than 5 then, were running around), also 2 icons who also passed away…Joey Ramone & Alan Vega…I have pics…

Jim Daniels

Would love to see those pics.


RIP Ric.

I first heard The Cars’ “Just What I Needed” on my uni radio station and was immediately taken by it.

Went out and bought the album and the cherry was it was produced by Roy Thomas Baker.


RIP Ric and blessings to your family.

Had a bunch of Cars songs on the other day (of course while driving). A band dear to me, especially during middle and high school years with Shake It Up and Hello Again being my favorites.

Spiral Scar

Back in the fall of 1978, when I was starting 7th grade here in the US, songs like “Just What I Needed” and “My Best Friend’s Girl” seemed to be appreciated and approved of by just about every kid I knew. Somehow, it was just understood that this new band was “cool.” The LP turned up in a lot of friends’ collections pretty quickly, particularly friends who never liked disco (or wouldn’t openly admit it) as did Candy-O the next summer. The first album is nearly a “Greatest Hits Volume One” all by itself. Every single song on that album has been played all over rock radio for over forty years and back in the early days, you often could hear the last 3 segued songs on “side two” played uninterrupted. The album has aged extraordinarily well.
Candy-O is very nearly as good, and again, there is a trio of songs that link together. The crash entry of “Candy-O” following “Shoo-Be-Doo” is one of my all-time favorite moments on a Cars album. Decades after first hearing “Shoo-Be-Doo,” I took a chance on the first album by Suicide. I had only read about them and really knew nothing of their music. On the Cars’ album, what was once just plain bizarre then makes a lot more sense now.
I have to say, though, my heart is heavy today, as it was in 2000 after Ben Orr died, because album three is my personal favorite. Maybe I’m perverse and maybe it’s sometimes intentional, but Panorama is probably in my all-time top ten albums. I inherited my first copy from a buddy who also loved the first two albums but just couldn’t get into this one. I borrowed it in 1980, returned it and bought the same copy from him in 82 (we were just kids who didn’t have much money, so this seemed like a big deal!) I picked up the single for “Touch And Go” (that edit is still not available anywhere else, and that’s how I primarily experienced the song for two years) with “Down Boys” on the flip. “Touch And Go” was such a disorienting song that when it was playing on the radio, I wondered if I was hearing it all wrong. Perhaps that’s why it barely cracked the top 40, and the album as a whole didn’t connect with fans like the first two did. This was exactly why I embraced the album. But I wasn’t kidding myself. I really devoured this album. I was just starting to buy “new wave” singles and albums, and this was one of my first. It still gets played, usually in the autumn when something about the season triggers the memory. I love the work that each member of the band brings to this album, especially Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes.
My second favorite album is Door To Door. Perverse? Nah. The first single was too wimpy (“You Are The Girl”) and maybe, like with Panorama, that first offering didn’t click, and the Cars stalled again. I was going to get the album anyway, and although they’d polished up a little too much in spots, it grew on me in a way that Heartbeat City didn’t. Maybe I just tend to root for the underdog and I’m suspicious of champions. Hafta look into that. Anyway, “Strap Me In” deserved to be a hit, yet it sputtered out way south of “I-40” and the writing was on the wall. The Cars didn’t change much at all, the listeners did.
Blah blah blah. Sorry. I’m a little upset. And yes, I liked Eddie Money, too. Although there’s no particular album of his that would be considered his landmark release, I have about ten of them and they’re all pretty solid in a classic rock kind of way. Great daytime driving music.
New music is drastically different now and although I’m not ever going to expect the likes of Eddie Money or The Cars to become popular again, I’m grateful for the music they left behind. Especially in the case of Panorama, it’s a defining part of my life.
Thank you Ric and Eddie.


What very sad news.

I was attending college in Boston when the Cars started playing at the local clubs. I didn’t know what to think of their music upon first listen at one of the clubs, since most of the FM radio stations at the time were only playing hard rock, prog or disco, and the term ‘New Wave’ wasn’t even coined yet. But it didn’t take me too long catch on to the Cars’ sound and develop a big appreciation. Their first and second albums in particular ended up becoming soundtracks for my late teenage years. I played their cassettes in my car constantly, so many of my memories from that time are now tied to these songs.

Like John Lennon’s passing made me feel like I lost a bit of my childhood, Ric Ocasek’s passing makes me feel like I’ve lost a bit of my coming-of-age years. Thank you for the great music, Ric.


Can I recommend the Cars boxed set of albums which came out on CD in 2016.


The first 2 albums, the debut and Candy-O are new wave power pop classics.


Did I miss the write up on eddie money’s passing?

Johnny Spasm

…and the award for least appropriate comment goes to…


RIP Ric Ocasek. One of the Greats and a genuine innovator. Going to have to go and play Troublizing. The excellent and largely overlooked album Ric did with Billy Corgan, back in 1997. It goes without saying that the Cars first album is an absolute and completely timeless classic. My 41 year old copy still gets a regular play. There aren’t many 70’s albums I can still say that about.

Paul Taylor

Quite shocked to hear about this today.
My first contact was the 7″ picture disc of My Best Friend’s Girl in 1978, and the subsequent blue/green/mauve picture discs released in the UK. Subsequently bought the first two albums and eventually Heartbeat City.
I always felt they were criminally under appreciated in the UK and deserved more mainstream success here. They were brilliant musicians and songwriters and Ric will be missed by many in the music business.
I was pleased the Radio 2 hosts made a point of covering the passing of “the lead singer of The Cars” although slightly less impressed when they subsequently played “Drive” or “Just What I Needed” . I don’t think it would’ve been hard to dig out My Best Friend’s Girl, You Might Think or Candy O.
I will be breaking out my Elektra Years vinyl box tonight to revisit their work.
RIP Ric (and Ben)


Two of his other big producer credits are Romeo Void’s “Never Say Never” and Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream.” What a talent.

Valentin Gallego Pastor

RIP Ric Ocasek
The sublime The Cars – Heartbeat City (1984)


Indeed The Cars were big here in the US especially by 84 when all their videos from the heartbeat city album were playing virtually continuously on MTV. I had a cassette tape of that album that I basically wore out. I also picked up a copy of the Hello Again 12″ which includes a dub version which *still* hasn’t been put on CD (due to what I assume are copyright issues with short snippets of bugs bunny sounds). I did also finally mange to get to one of their live shows back in 87, which turned out to be their final tour before Orr passed away.


Not sure, that’s why the Dub wasn’t on there. More of a space issue.
The 12 remix also has samples, and it was on the remaster.


Robert Laversuch

Very sad news – another hero gone. First album is a classic imho one of the finest debut albums EVER.
Was blasting greatest hits in car today-how appropriate-not a bad song among them. Door to Door is also a personal fave-can’t understand why it did so badly back then. Ric, as stated elsewhere, also did production work – Suicide, Weezer and Rock for Light by Bad Brains. A gem of an album – jaw dropping moment for me. RIP blasting your tunes as I type this – thank you. You made my world a lot happier!

mike pember

Gutted ,as a 16 year old back in 1978 the Cars grabbed my ears .WOW a new sound well away from the AOR of the day .The picture disk of the 45 “my best friends girl” was purchased from HMV & album soon after.They disliked the UK which was disappointing back in the day.I did hope the reunion of 8yrs ago might bring them here & hoped they would headline Glastonbury .Sad day very sad


Being a Yank and a teenager in the 80’s, The Cars were as major a part of my daily soundtrack as any other band. And welcome they were. Ric also showed me, as did Billy Joel, that it didn’t matter WHAT you looked like, if you were a rock star, you get to marry a supermodel.

Moving in Stereo is still my favorite of there’s (and not just because of THAT scene in Fast Times at Ridgemount High) but am still amazed at the amount of hits and simply great songs they put out. Would have to be a serious contender for ultimate band of the 80’s.

Well done, Ric, well done.

Mathew Lauren

First Eddie Money, and now Ric Ocasek.

Many have speculated that The Cars s/t album in 5.1 (in the can for over a decade and a half – now) wouldn’t get released by the time the band or the fans died-off (and it’s supposed to be a good ‘en) — sadly prescient comments, now!

Anyway, I wondered over the weekend (after Money’s death), who got the “other ticket” — and now we know.

Thanks for the music and memories!

RIP, guys…


Very sad news Ric Ocasek was and will always be a legend check out his 7 solo albums especially his 2nd album from 1986 “This Side Of Paradise” contains the classic “Emotion In Motion” single.

Michael Chapman

OMG! Just read this. I’m truly saddened.
What a talented man and equally talented band.
I have all the Car’s albums (original lineup) plus Ric’s first two solo cd’s.
Putting “Beatitude” on right now.
RIP Ric Ocasek .


I suggest you get the rest of his solo albums…all are great


Anybody unfamiliar with The Cars should check out the sublime ‘Since You’re Gone’



A cornerstone of my middle and high school years. Their debut album is just fantastic – can stand next to anyone’s. I personally found Heartbeat City a little too synthesized, but a minor quibble. Any Greatest Hits package of theirs is non stop fun. Saw them on the Heartbeat City tour with Wang Chung as the opener @SPAC in Saratoga NY. They perfectly recreated track after track from their 5 albums with absolutely no banter between songs. The only word spoken was “Goodbye” at the end.

Marc V.

Ver sad news. I was introduced to The Cars by a friend right after Move Like This (2011) was released. Of course I previously knew classic hits like Drive, You Might Think, etc etc, but as I began listening to all their albums in depth, I became a big fan quickly.

I loved everything about them: the arrangements, the duality Ocasek/Orr on lead vocals, Elliot Easton´s playing, Greg Hawkes´ keys, their look, etc etc

Some of the songs I love the most from each album: Just What I Needed, All Mixed Up, Let´s Go, Dangerous Type, Panorama, Touch And Go, Since You´re Gone, Shake It Up, Hello Again, Heartbeat City, Leave Or Stay, Too Late and Sad Song.

Rest in peace, Ric Ocasek.


His first solo album “Beatitude” was just amazing as well. “Jimmy Jimmy” and “Connect Up To Me” are as good as any Cars songs. But you can’t argue with “Good Times Roll,” “The Dangerous Type,” “Cruiser” or “Hello Again,” just indelible earworms for the ages.

I had no idea he was so old. He was less than a year younger than Mick and Keith!

RIP Ric.


Beatitude was not his first solo album but still amazing


I’m unaware of a solo album before Beatitude, Richard. Can you give more information as to what preceded it?


Beatitude is commonly referred to as his solo debut album, and I definitely remember it being marketed as such. Here’s a contemporaneous ad for it:

comment image

If there’s one before that, we’d love to know what it is. Please inform us!


My bad…It was his first & still a great one at that.


Can I just big up the extraordinary Daniel Johnston who died last Tuesday (10th) from natural causes. His passing got no media attention and I did not know about it until I saw his obituary in the Guardian last Friday.
A brilliantly original songwriter who battled against mental health issues all his life and released an astonishing amount of albums in his lifetime.
Greatly admired amongst his peers, including Kurt Cobain and Jason Pierce, newcomers would be best off starting with the compilation CD set, Welcome To My World… the Music of Daniel Johnston on Eternal Yip Eye Music.
It’s not for everybody but if you are looking for someone unique and original you could a lot worse.


Here, here.

David M

You mean hear, hear



I’m still waiting for the remastered release of THE CARS (first album) as well as Door To Door (the last one) with bonus tracks.



They probably won’t do another one for the first album since a 2 cd deluxe already exists with a whole 2nd cd of bonus songs


door to door was not the last cars album.

Larry Davis

The iconic debut was reissued back in 1999 as a 2CD set with both unreleased songs and a disc of those famous 1977 demos that got airplay & the band a record deal…as for Door To Door, yep, waiting on that remaster myself, and a CD of the live RSD vinyl from 2-3 years ago…maybe a proper Ric solo anthology and/or remasters of his overlooked solo catalogue…RIP Ric O…his passing was so unexpected and out of the blue I was truly stunned…first the other day, powerpop LI artist Eddie Money, expected cuz he announced he had Stage 4 Esophagal cancer, but Ric?? What???? I have my own stories for another post, just saying…RIP Daniel Johnston too…

Phil Cohen

There was a 2-CD expanded edition of The Cars’ debut album, issued some years before other Cars albums got the expanded treatment.

Mick Mac

The Cars are to the iconic Roland Juno-60 synthesizer what George Harrison was to the Rickenbacker 12-string guitar.

Wayne C

Listened to the first album yesterday afternoon (been a while) on the journey back from seeing Muse the night before, what a brilliant album that is such a sad loss didn’t realise he was that age as others have said, RIP.


You Might Think is one of my mom’s most lovable songs. Go figure. That also means how versatile was Ric’s songwriting abilities. I don’t know if he will be missed but i’m surely gonna miss him. I hope someone drives him home safely tonight


The debut LP is one of the finest debuts of all time. I still have my original vinyl bought in 1979.
I must have listened to that LP hundreds of time down the years since then.

I especially love the last 3 songs on Side B ( when you used to turn over the LP!!), namely
Bye Bye Love, Moving In Stereo and All Mixed Up.

Drive will forever be fixed as that song for that BBC(Michael Buerk) news footage when used in Live Aid. Still remember crying watching it in 1985.


I’m with colm47 on the last 3 tracks of the debut album. The way they segued into each other was just sublime! Never saw them live in the flesh but what I saw of their performances was very impressive -they PLAYED their songs the way you wanted to hear them. RIP Ric

Donal O'Connell

The Green Album by Weezer is one of the power pop gems which I treasure so I am indebted to Ric for his role in producing it.

Russell Emberson

Loved the Cars from the first single , first 2 albums and Heartbeat City in my opionan the best but also thought Door to Door was great , He also had great solo albums ( and because I’m a completeist I have the spoken word album)


I was surprised he was that advanced in age as well, and then I looked at my birth certificate and was more surprised that I was getting up there too…
Moving in Stereo was the song that got me hooked on the Cars. It has aged a lot better than some of their “new wave” material