Heart disease killed Ric Ocasek, lead singer of The Cars, according to medical examiner

Emphysema also contributed to the death of the renowned singer-songwriter.
Image: FILE PHOTO:  Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction - Show - Cleveland
Ric Ocasek of The Cars speaks on stage at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in CLeveland, Ohio on April 14, 2018.Aaron Josefczyk / Reuters file

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By David K. Li

Ric Ocasek, lead singer of The Cars, died from cardiac arrest that was brought on by heart disease, authorities said Monday.

The Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York formally listed the rocker's cause of death as "hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease" with a contributing factor of emphysema, a disease regularly associated with smokers.

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The medical examiner's office, which formally called the singer "Richard Otcasek" in documents, ruled his manner of death was "natural." He was 75.

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Ocasek, a 2018 inductee to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, was found Sunday inside his New York City apartment where he was pronounced dead.

His wife, model Paulina Porizkova, said that on Sunday morning while bringing him coffee, she realized the musician was dead.

"I touched his cheek to rouse him," she wrote on Instagram on Monday. "It was then I realized that during the night he had peacefully passed on."

She noted that he was "recuperating very well after surgery," but did not provide details about why type of procedure.

Fans and peers mourned his death Monday.

“We’re truly saddened to hear about the passing of Ric Ocasek,” according to a statement on Monday by John Josephson, chairman and CEO of the songwriter advocacy group SESAC.

“As a songwriter and musician, Ric made a significant impact on American music, setting a standard for aspiring songwriters over the decades and for years to come. We’ll miss him greatly.”

Ocasek co-founded The Cars in Boston in 1976 with bassist and singer Benjamin Orr. The band's sound merged classic guitar-oriented rock with synthesizer-driven pop sounds of the late 1970s and early 80s.

The band recorded more than a dozen Top 40 anthems, including "My Best Friend’s Girl," "Good Times Roll," and "Just What I Needed."

The Cars broke up in the late 1980s, but Ocasek would go on to become a noted producer, working with influential punk and rock bands like Bad Brains, Weezer and Bad Religion.

Sara G. Miller contributed.