Musician Ric Ocasek of The Cars was a big deal in the music world. In addition to being a lead singer, a rhythm guitarist and a successful songwriter and music producer, he was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Sadly, Ocasek, 75, was found dead in a Manhattan apartment on Sept. 15. The cause of death has not been revealed, but foul play is not suspected.
As you may already know, Ocasek and The Cars had numerous song hits in the ’70s and ’80s, including “Drive,” “Just What I Needed” and “Shake It Up.” The band’s first big chart-topper was “Let’s Go” in 1979.
Here are some facts you may not have known about him:
1. Ric Ocasek Was The Principal Songwriter For The Cars
Ocasek split the songwriting duties with bassist Benjamin Orr, who could sometimes be heard singing lead vocals, although Ocasek was the main vocalist for the group. Ocasek wrote the majority of the songs for the band, and Rolling Stone says Ocasek had a love of 1950s rock and roll that came out in his lyrics. He often wrote about things he believed happened to the average person, even if they didn’t happen to him. That’s what helped fans identify with his songs and spurred them to top the charts.
2. He Played All Of The Instruments On His 1982 Solo Album
Ocasek’s first solo album in the early 1980s was more experimental than what The Cars had been producing. On the album, which was called “Beatitude” (pronounced Beat-itude as a nod to the word “beat”), the musician played all of the instruments himself, according to an article published in the Sun Sentinel in 1986. The album made the Top 30 but fewer than 500,000 copies were sold.
3. Ocasek Has More Than 100 Soundtrack Credits
The songwriter’s tunes got used everywhere on-screen. It’s possible you’ve seen at least one show or video that features a song written by Ocasek, especially songs performed by The Cars. A look at his IMDb page shows 100 credits for TV series, video shorts and more. You might have heard “My Best Friend’s Girl” in the movie of the same name, “Drive” in the movie “Transformers” or “Bye Bye Love” in the movie “Super 8,” for example.
4. He Got His First Guitar When He Was 10
Ocasek, who was born Richard Otcasek, received a guitar from his grandmother when he was 10. At the time, he loved the song “That’ll Be The Day” by the Crickets, so he took guitar lessons and learned to play it. When he accepted his place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he gave a speech in which he thanked his grandmother for the gift and for pushing him to sing. He said she bought the guitar from Sears and Roebuck.
5. He Produced Three Albums For Weezer
Ocasek was the producer on Weezer’s “Blue Album” in 1994, which featured the hit songs “Buddy Holly” and “Say It Ain’t So.” It was the debut album for the band and it reached No. 16 on the Billboard 200. Ocasek also produced “The Green Album” for Weezer and 2014’s “Everything [Will Be Alright In the End].” The band paid tribute to him on Twitter the day he died:
The weezer family is devastated by the loss of our friend and mentor Ric Ocasek, who passed away Sunday. We will miss him forever, & will forever cherish the precious times we got to work and hang out with him. Rest in Peace & rock on Ric, we love you. #RIPRicOcasek #karlscorner pic.twitter.com/JcTXevr6V8
— weezer (@Weezer) September 16, 2019
It’s apparent that Ric Ocasek was a huge contributor to the music that has shaped our world, and he will be greatly missed.