Ric Ocasek, the former lead singer of the iconic new wave band The Cars, leaves behind a large family of six sons, the product of his three marriages.
Over the years, Ocasek, who died of heart disease with emphysema as a contributing factor, has also highlighted the importance of his grandmother to his musical career. She encouraged his musical talents from a young age, he revealed in interviews and during a moving Hall of Fame acceptance speech. His father’s decision to move the family to Cleveland, Ohio in his youth was also something that Ocasek talked about a lot.
Ocasek was found dead in his Manhattan home on the afternoon of September 15, 2019, a Sunday, the New York Police Department confirmed to Heavy. Police say that Ocasek was found “in his bed unconscious and unresponsive” and that the call came in around 4 p.m. on September 15, 2019 for a male in need of aid inside a residence at East 19th Street. Page Six reports that Ocasek was found by the supermodel Paulina Porizkova, who is his estranged third wife.
“Ric was at home recuperating very well after surgery. Our two sons, Jonathan and Oliver, and I were making sure he was comfortable, ordering food and watching TV together,” Porizkova posted on Instagram in a message signed “from the Ocasek family.”
“I found him still asleep when bringing him his Sunday morning coffee. I touched his cheek to rouse him. It was then I realized that during the night he had peacefully passed on. We appreciate the great outpouring of love. 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.”
It’s now been revealed that Ocasek died from cardiovascular disease – specifically “hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, also called atherosclerosis, which is an accumulation of plaque in the arteries that can weaken the heart’s muscle. The autopsy also noted pulmonary emphysema as a contributing factor,” Daily Variety revealed.
Ocasek had two children with Paulina and four children with two previous wives.
Here’s what you need to know about Ric Ocasek’s Family:
1. Ocasek Thanked His ‘Wheelchair-Bound Grandmother’ for Giving Him His First Guitar
The Ocasek family still goes by Ric’s original surname, which is Otcasek. His full name was Richard Otcasek, and he was born in Baltimore, Maryland, but he spent his formative teenage years in Cleveland, Ohio, and The Cars was founded in Boston.
During his Hall of Fame acceptance speech, when The Cars were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Otcasek singled out his grandma for praise. You can watch that video above.
According to Rolling Stone, Ocasek’s grandmother “gave him a guitar when he was about ten because he was enraptured by the Crickets’ ‘That’ll Be the Day,'” but he stopped playing it after taking lessons for three months.
In his Hall of Fame acceptance speech, he thanked his “wheel-chaired grandmother” for forcing him to sing at age 5 and for buying him the guitar from Sears and Roebuck, although he said she gave him the guitar when he was 14 years old. In the same speech, he also spoke movingly about the man with whom he was later to found The Cars: Benjamin Orr. “It’s hard not to notice that (The Cars’) Benjamin Orr is not here. He would have been elated to be here on this stage. It feels quite strange to be up here without him. We miss him and love him dearly,” Ocasek said from the stage. Orr died in 2000 of pancreatic cancer.
2. Ocasek’s Father Worked for NASA & Moved the Family to Cleveland When Ocasek Was Growing Up
Ocasek’s dad was a systems analyst for NASA, The New York Times reported.
The Baltimore Sun reported that Ocasek moved from Baltimore at age 16, and his father also served in the Air Force. The Sun reported that he was expelled from Immaculate Heart of Mary School because he “gave the nuns a hard time verbally.”
Still, he added, according to the Sun: “I was a total Baltimore kid. I dyed my hair blond in the front, went to Ocean City, and lived that whole thing. I have extremely fond memories of it.”
Ocasek talked about his time in Cleveland back stage after his Hall of Fame induction.
Things were not always rosy in the Ocasek family when Ocasek was growing up. Ocasek became estranged from his parents in his teens, Rolling Stone reported, and would travel to the Ocean City boardwalk to hang out for several weeks. His family moved to Cleveland at that time, and he decided to improve his grades so he could go to college, according to Rolling Stone. He tried Antioch College and Bowling Green State University, but college wasn’t for him, so he switched back to music.
He became interested in music as a teenager, listening to Buddy Holly & the Crickets. Soon he was in Boston starting bands.
3. Ocasek’s Second Marriage Lasted 17 Years But Ocasek Spoke About the Difficulties of Touring With a Family
Ocasek’s second wife was named Suzanne Otcasek, and according to Newsday, they were married for 17 years. She’s currently an executive assistant at a center that helps children toward healthy development. She has a BA in English Literature from Simmons College. She has also worked as a tutor in the Boston Public School system.
“She previously worked for a welfare to work organization as an employment counselor where she found employment and mentored adults transitioning into the workplace,” her work biography reads.
Ric Ocasek’s first wife was named Constance, IMDB reports. Variety reports that Ocasek left Suzanne after meeting Porizkova. According to Ancestry records, Ocasek and Constance divorced in 1971 in Ohio and had two children, although those records list her name as “Constan.”
Ocasek spoke candidly over the years about the difficulties of balancing family life with touring. “When I was touring a lot, it was overwhelming. It was like, make a record, then tour for six or eight months. And then, you know, forget your kids’ names, and be stuck in some room somewhere at 10 o’clock and the only thing open is Denny’s,” he told AV Club.
4. Paulina Porizkova Met Ocasek When She Starred in a Cars’ Music Video & Described Him as Her Perfect Man But They Earned ‘Beauty & the Beast’ Comparisons
When the supermodel Paulina Porizkova married awkward-looking rocker Ocasek in 1989, Beauty and the Beast comparisons flew, according to Entertainment Weekly. She was at the peak of her ’80s supermodel career, and he wasn’t known for his looks (although he obviously had more than the normal amount of talent.)
However, Porizkova described Ocasek as her perfect man. According to EW, she had described that person as “a combination of Mr. Spock, David Bowie, Jesus Christ, and Chopin.” The site reports that Paulina and Ric shared childhood alienation in common. She had been separated from her parents for a time in childhood because they fled the Communist regime in then Czechoslovakia, EW reports.
She met Ocasek five years before they married when she starred in a music video for The Cars’ iconic tune, Drive. He was still married to second wife Suzanne Otcasek.
Eventually, the marriage between the model and rocker crumbled after three decades, but, according to Paulina, the pair remained on good terms. However, the couple separated in 2018 after nearly three decades of marriage.
At the time, Ocasek’s wife wrote on Instagram, “Our family always has been — and still is — a well-built car. When the four of us are together, we can go wherever the road takes us. But as a bicycle, my husband and I no longer pedal in unison. So we’re ditching the bicycle.” She added: “Ric and I have been peacefully separated for the past year. The photos of our happy family are, in fact, happy family photos; we are just no longer a couple.”
The pair put their $15 million townhouse on the market after announcing their split. That’s the same townhouse where he was found.
5. Ocasek Has Six Sons, Including an Actor & Musician
Ocasek has two sons with Paulina – Jonathan Raven Otcasek and Oliver Otcasek. He has two sons each from his other two marriages also; his other sons are Christopher Otcasek, Adam Otcasek, Eron Otcasek and Derek Otcasek.
Porizkova told Yahoo, “We have always been extremely close as a family unit. We have always traveled together and enjoyed spending time together. We actually just came from the Czech Republic, so it was nice to show them their roots.”
According to IMDB, Christopher Otcasek was in an ’80s band called Glamour Camp. He appeared in the movie Pretty Woman. His Facebook page says he works at Insomniac Games.
Eron Otcasek was born in Boston and is an actor. According to his IMDB profile, Eron “took classes at New York Film Academy and graduated New York University with a B.A. in film and television.” He’s appeared in short films and in the movies Inscrutable Americans, Roomates, School of Rock, and 13 Going on 30. He’s also appeared on Law & Order.
In 2009, Ric Ocasek tried his hand at art, encouraged by his son Adam Otcasek’s gallery owner girlfriend. Adam illustrated Paulina’s children’s book. He’s an art director and graphic designer who lives in Ohio, according to his LinkedIn page.
As early as high school, Oliver Otcasek expressed an interest in music, telling the Cut, “Music is my main interest; I play the piano, the violin, and mandolin and am hoping to compose a violin concerto over Christmas break. Creativity runs in our family; my mom was a model and is now a writer, and my dad was the lead singer of the Cars.” Jonathan’s Facebook page says he lives in Chicago.
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