Richard Theodore Otcasek was a singer, producer, actor, painter, photographer, and author. He was known to most of the world by his stage name, Ric Ocasek. He was born in Baltimore Maryland on March 23, 1944. At the age of 16, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio because of his father’s job with NASA. Ric briefly attended college, but he dropped out in order to pursue a career in music.
He formed his first band, called ID Nirvana, after meeting bassist Benjamin Orr, who was on a local variety show with his band the Grasshoppers. Together, they joined up with various other bands before eventually moving to Boston. The next music venture they founded was a folk-rock band called Milkwood. Next came the creation of Richard and the Rabbits, which included a new band member, Greg Hawkes. Together, the three of them eventually formed the band The Cars, which soon became a household name.
The band stayed together for ten years. They recorded six studio albums and had 13 songs that earned a spot on Billboard’s top 40 list. Ric also recorded his own tracks during a solo career that spanned over the course of three albums.
Music wasn’t his only passion, however. He was a prolific doodler and loved to draw often. In addition, he was also an author, publishing a book of poetry in the early nineties. He also published a book of song lyrics that contained previously unseen writing pieces and examples of his photography. As a painter, he delighted audiences with his own gallery shows. As a producer, he helped many bands launch their careers. Some of the groups he helped were Weezer, No Doubt, and Bad Religion, to name just a few.
In later years, he reconnected with his old bandmates to release a new album for The Cars. This gave a whole new generation a chance to know him and experience his talents. Before he died, he and the Cars had the honor of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While on stage, he thanked his family and his manager and his former bandmates, including Orr who had died a few years earlier.
At the age of 75, Ric Ocasek was found dead at his New York City townhouse by his estranged wife, Paulina Porizkova. He had passed away peacefully in his sleep while he was home recovering from surgery.