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September 15, 2019 at 09:20 PM EDT
Bill Tompkins/Getty Images

Ric Ocasek, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and lead singer of The Cars, died on Sunday in New York at age 75. The NYPD confirmed the news to EW.

Police said they received a call around 4 p.m. for an unconscious male at a townhouse on East 19th Street, NBC 4 New York reported. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Ocasek’s cause of death was cardiovascular disease, according to an autopsy report from the New York City medical examiner’s office obtained by EW. His wife, Paulina Porizkova, said on Instagram on Monday that Ocasek “peacefully passed on” at home while he was recuperating from surgery.

“We appreciate the great outpouring of love,” she also wrote. “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.”

Emerging from the New Wave scene, The Cars were one of the most recognizable bands in the 1970s and 1980s, known for their infusion of pop elements — like the synthesizer — into guitar-heavy rock. The band had 13 top-40 singles including  “Shake It Up,” “You Might Think,” “Tonight She Comes,” and its highest-charting track, “Drive.” The band released seven studio albums, the most recent being 2011’s Move Like This. 

The Cars broke up in the late 1980s, before reuniting later in 2010-11. Ocasek pursued being a solo artist, and he was a successful producer as well, working with artists like Weezer, No Doubt, and Bad Religion. Benjamin Orr, who cofounded The Cars, died in 2000. He and the other members of the group were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

Ocasek is survived by six sons, two from each of his three marriages. He and Porizkova, his third wife and a former supermodel, announced their separation in 2018. In a statement shared by The Cars’ Twitter account, Ocasek’s sons gave a glimpse into their father’s last moments.

“Our dad was a prolific doodler. His passing was sudden, unexpected, and beyond heartbreaking,” the message read. “Yesterday, we found this last doodle on his armchair. He couldn’t have known what it would end up meaning to us. We love him so much.”

Fans on social media, including actors Elijah Wood and Donal Logue, have shared messages honoring Ocasek and The Cars’ contributions to music.

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