Ric Ocasek’s Wife Gives Update on Rock and Roll Star’s Cause of Death

NEW YORK—The New York City medical examiner says Ric Ocasek, the 75-year-old frontman for The Cars, died of heart disease, worsened by emphysema.

Ocasek’s wife, model and actress Paulina Porizkova, posted a statement on Instagram, saying he was “recuperating very well after surgery” and that their two sons were making sure he was comfortable. Porizkova did not say what type of surgery Ocasek was recovering from.

She says she went to bring him his Sunday morning coffee and “realized that during the night he had peacefully passed on.” He was in his Manhattan apartment at the time.

Inductee Ric Ocasek
Inductee Ric Ocasek of The Cars attends the 33rd Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 14, 2018. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images For The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

The New York Police Department said that officers found the 75-year-old Ocasek at about 4 p.m. after responding to a 911 call. They said there were no signs of foul play and that the medical examiner was to determine a cause of death.

The Cars chart-topping hits in the late 1970s and 1980s included “Just What I Needed,” ″Shake It Up” and “Drive.” The band was inducted last year into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The band broke up in 1988.

The death comes a year after The Cars were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, followed by an announcement by model Paulina Porizkova on social media last year that she and Ocasek had separated after 28 years of marriage. The pair first met while filming the music video for “Drive,” another Cars hit.

In announcing the separation last year, Porizkova said that their family is “a well-built car.” But she says that “as a bicycle, my husband and I no longer pedal in unison.”

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Musician Ric Ocasek and model Paulina Porizkova
Model Paulina Poriskova and husband musician Rick Ocasek attend the “Bon Jovi: When We Were Beautiful” New York premiere at the SVA Theater in New York City on Oct. 21, 2009. (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Ocasek had six sons, two from each of his three marriages.

He grew up in Baltimore, and his family moved to Cleveland when he was a teenager.

After graduating high school he had stints at Antioch College and Bowling Green State University in the mid-1960s before dropping out to pursue music.

Ocasek met Orr in 1965 and they formed their own first band called ID Nirvana in 1968.

In the 1970s they relocated to Boston and formed bands including the folk-rock Milkwood and also played as an acoustic duo before finding their calling when they created The Cars.