Entertainment & Arts

The Cars singer Ric Ocasek died in his sleep, says family

Ric Ocasek Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The star had been recovering from surgery when he died

In the wake of Ric Ocasek's death, his family have posted a statement saying The Cars star died unexpectedly but "peacefully" in his sleep.

"I found him still asleep when bringing him his Sunday morning coffee," wrote the musician's wife Paulina Porizkova.

"I touched his cheek to rouse him. It was then I realised that during the night he had peacefully passed on."

The New York City medical examiner's office said the cause of death was heart disease, worsened by emphysema.

The family said Ocasek had been recovering from unspecified surgery when he died.

As the guitarist, chief songwriter and co-lead vocalist of The Cars, Ocasek helped to define the sound of new wave rock in the 1970s and 80s.

A multi platinum-selling band in the US, they are best known in the UK for two top 10 hits - My Best Friend's Girl and the haunting ballad Drive, which was used to heartbreaking effect during Live Aid in 1985 under a montage of images of the Ethiopian famine.

Ocasek later donated all his royalties from the song to the relief effort.

"The Cars had it all: The looks, the hooks, beat-romance lyrics, killer choruses, guitar solos... [and] dazzling music videos," said Brandon Flowers of the Killers last year as The Cars were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He was among the many musicians who paid tribute online after news of Ocasek's death broke.

Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan also posted a long essay on Instagram, sharing his memories of producing Ocasek's 1997 solo album Troublizing.

"Devastated to hear of the passing on this man, Ric Ocasek," he wrote. "It has brightened my spirit to see how many have posted about Ric, praising his originality, flair, and brilliance. I was blessed to have known him, through friendship and work."

As fans left floral tributes and cards of condolence outside Ocasek's New York apartment, the family said they "appreciate the great outpouring of love" they have received.

"We, his family and friends, are completely and utterly devastated by his untimely and unexpected death and would appreciate the privacy to mourn in private," they added.

The star's sons, Jonathan and Oliver, also shared a doodle their father had been working on the day he died.

Featuring an abstract figure, the illustration also contained several phrases that seemed particularly poignant in the circumstances: "It is what it is" and "Keep on laughin'".

"We found this last doodle on his armchair," they said in a caption. "He couldn't have known what it would end up meaning to us. We love him so much."

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