Rest in peace, Ric Ocasek.

ric from paulina.png
From Paulina, 09.16.19

Ric died on Sunday.

You probably already know that. Of course you do. It is all over every newswire; the world is in mourning.

I’m touched by the number of friends and fans that have contacted me to make sure I was aware, to see if I was okay, and to share their tears with me. Thank you for that. It is both overwhelming and comforting to be a part of so much heartbreak. There is shelter in our mutual grief, and I am grateful for the sincere connection with so many people who love the band I love.

Like many Benjamin Orr fans, when I first started learning all about Ben and researching the history of The Cars, I immediately adopted the opinion that Ric was the bad guy. I couldn’t see the necessity and beauty of his role; I only saw things in the negative: lead vocal distribution, video screen time, touring and merchandising decisions. It’s no secret that he was highly controlling (he admitted it himself more than once) and that he gained the most financially from the band’s success, and I felt that he often came across as arrogant and self-absorbed in those early interviews. I pinned everything on him: SCAN0082certainly the break-up of the band, as well as Ben’s drinking, Ben’s sadness, and Ben’s lack of commercial success in those turbulent 1990s.

It was my friend and podcast partner, Dave, who helped me unclench my fist. We’ve always shared a friendly “Team Ric vs. Team Ben” rivalry, and through many lengthy discussions he chipped away at my tunnel vision and illuminated the human side of Ric, the likeable side. My perception slowly shifted.

I acknowledged that Ric was the one who wrote the music that moved me, the lyrics that resonated. I admitted that I loved a lot of the songs Ric sang. I was reminded that he was Ben’s steadfast partner in chasing the dream, the two of them trekking from state to state in one band or another, both aware (subconsciously or not) that they needed each other to make it. Ric introduced us to David, Elliot, and Greg, too, when he finally solidified The Cars. I saw how in his later years Ric mellowed, spoke kindly of Ben and the band, and communicated his deep respect for the men with whom he made his mark. All these things softened me.

I’m not saying that Ric didn’t play a significant part in all of the ugly, he doesn’t get a ‘pass’ by any means. And I’m not claiming to know how deep his regrets may or may not have been. But I do believe that Ben and Ric made amends before Ben died. I believe that Ric’s love for Ben was sincere and deep, in spite of whatever divided them in the past. Elliot, Greg, and David all speak of Ric with the affection and loyalty that reflects the thick bonds of brotherhood they all shared. If those who were actually hurt by Ric can forgive him, how can I, an outside observer, hold a grudge?


I’ve grown to genuinely admire and respect Ric so much over the last two years. He was intelligent, creative, talented, and he was an integral part of the band I love the most in this world. His death is a terrible blow, a sucker punch. Tears came unexpectedly; many, many tears. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I’d have to say goodbye to my rock idols someday… but not Ric. Not now.

There’s just such a finality in Ric’s death. It’s the end of an era. There is really no more Cars. There will be no more albums, no more tours. And what of the fabled vault? It’s excruciating to accept that so much history may be gone forever, too.

And so I focus on gratitude.

Thank you for all that your music gives me, Ric: the hyper, the healing, the escape. Thank you for the way you gave me Ben. Thank you for providing the platform for David and Greg and Elliot. Thank you for performing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2018 so I could see The Cars live. Thank you for changing the course of music history.

I don’t know exactly how the afterlife works but I suspect (and hope) that you and Ben are reunited, rockin’ and happy. Rest in peace.

March 23, 1944 ~ September 15, 2019

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


18 thoughts on “Rest in peace, Ric Ocasek.

  1. I’ve heard of the ugliness. I don’t know any details, but also, I’m not sure that I want to only because it’ll make me feel so much sadder for Ben particularly, but also the rest of the bandmembers. Ric is gone. You’re right, it was a sucker punch, and nobody–least of all us, his fans–most of all, his family–were ready for it. I grieve for his passing, but I also grieve for all he knew, all he didn’t share, all he kept locked away. I’m still angry at him, though as you’d so gently pointed out, how can we hold a grudge when those whom he’d actually hurt have found forgiveness? I’m fiercely protective, and I’m not sure I can find it in me to forgive him entirely. But that’s not to say I didn’t spend the last two days in an absolute state of shut-down. I don’t believe in an afterlife, but of course, I could be wrong. We could all be wrong about what happens after death, no matter what our belief is. But I hope that in living this one life, this one chance to make our mark on the world, we make the best mark, the most positive mark, the most durable, lasting mark. And Ric seems to have achieved that, many times over.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. This brought me to tears. You’ve said so much of what I’ve been feeling since first reading the news on Sunday. I’ve found it hard to reconcile my (almost militant) Team Ben stance with the recognition that, without Ric, there would have been no Cars. That every single one of the songs I love, no matter who sang lead, was conceived and written by Ric. That Ben and Ric truly WERE a team during arguably the most creative part of their lives. When I’ve re-watched the final Cars interview with open eyes & mind, I now see that they had overcome whatever differences and hurts had remained of the past and had slipped back into their old camaraderie.

    Whether we’re reaching out to each other with condolences or not, the FANORAMA is united in grief and you have expressed that grief so well. We had all hung on Ric’s hints that he’d like to record again, thinking that the RRHOF reunion proved they still had it and hoping for one last Cars album. That hope is gone with Ric. I cannot imagine the world without the Cars. ❤

    Liked by 5 people

  3. There was no Cars without RIc, there was no Cars without Benjamin.
    I think you have said it all perfectly and gave voice to what many of us are thinking and feeling.
    Lovingly honest and open as one would expect from you.

    And now a shift in the universe, and we must adjust. Now photos of not just Benjamin, but of Ric and Ben together. More nostalgic than before.

    Not too many people get to live their dream in this life, but Benjamin and Ric did. The journey to creating the Cars and the years they had together with their band mates was their life blood.
    They gave us all so much!
    Rest In Peace Ric Ocasek

    Liked by 4 people

  4. When it gets down to it,all the wonderful musicians in the band were of Ric,all of the awesome words we ever wanted to say or hear from someone,were from Ric,all of the amazing melodies,& flowing songs were from Ric,all of the songs Benjamin sang were given to him by Ric,all of the financial arranging handled basically by Ric,all of the final decisions made by Ric.Any of the extra flourishes,added tunes or beats,improve wording,clothing designs,added background fills,extra harmonies,& stage antics,personalities from the other guys made by the other band members,combined made The Cars who they became,but in the beginning Ric had the idea to make the band.Without the others there would never be The Cars,but those other CARS are still in this world,& all of their individual or combined efforts will still be admired,& loved by true CARS fans.We love you Greg,Elliot,& David,& I respectfully send my heartfelt love to Rics sons,Ben’s son,& their Mothers,& the partners of the other CARS of the group.LOVE LIVES FOREVER,& we know this & ztheres a fine reunion in heaven right now.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for your caring and loving response. Beautifully written and so full of humanity…a real tribute to Ric, a man of huge talent. Ben and Ric made amends and forgave one another which is what counts the most.The ability to forgive and move on says so much about our beloved Ben and about his “bestie” Rest in peace, Ric.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Dear Donna, I am still in shock.
    Because I became a fan at a fairly young age before any troubles about the band was even talked about I always loved Ric but of course Benjamin was always my favourite, it was only later I felt some frustration, perhaps some anger at the break up and sadness and bitterness that seemed to have occured. But as you wrote it appears that Benjamin made peace with Ric so I certainly did some time ago and admired him as I used to. He was a human being with flaws as we all have but what a creative man he was and he wrote my favourite songs and gave me a soundtrack to my life 😉 and for this I will be eternally grateful.
    I cannot believe or want to face that he has passed away but I do realize it is so, there is such a sadness and a feel of emptiness just thinking he has gone and no more Cars’ albums will ever appear, I feel a part has died in me, and it also brings back the grief I felt when Benjamin passed and also family and friends. Words are not enough to express how sad I feel and bereft.
    One thing is for certain, we must reach out to people we love as we do not know how long things will remain and must make each day count. Life is too short.
    Love and hugs to you , my friend

    Tia xxooxx

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Beautiful words, Donna. A huge, sudden loss. We are all grieving in our own way. Another chunk of our 20th century rock and roll is gone. We are all impacted in such a big way. Can only send loving thoughts to his family and friends. As someone else posted, I can’t imagine a world without the Cars either. Rest in sweet peace, Ric.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Beautifully, written from the heart. It was shocking to me when I saw a post sending condolences to Ric. I thought it was someone else that Ric might have lost. It turns out it was Rick himself who passed away I learned about it on social media and local radio station KLOS with the honorable DJ Lovely Rita Wild , playing the Cars music Sunday night. She’s amazing !

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I mourn what I know, what I knew – that (as you also say) Ric was an amazingly talented and creative individual who was also able to bring out the best in four other men and they collectively created a legacy which endures, music which continues to give us joy for all time. I think there is something to be said for all of them recognizing their collective greatness as well as individual strengths as they did in their Induction speeches. Life is short, Art is long, and you’ve got to treasure it all while you can. But also, entirely human…and how amazing those five humans could achieve so much. We had to let Ric go, just as we had to let Ben go, but a part of them is always right here with us.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. I came across an article on pinterest(I really don’t know why I didn’t pin it) where Benjamin mentions the first time he met Ric and how he said how he felt like he was someone he’d grown up with right from the start even though it usually takes him a while to warm up to people, that wasn’t the case with Ric. I think it is one of the first things I’ve come across where it’s Benjamin talking about meeting Ric and I thought it was nice insight into why they hit it off, to hear the other side of the beginning of their friendship. It seems like they both recognized a kindred spirit.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I did come across that scan again, the part mentioning Ric is just a little bit before the end of the page. Unfortunately it doesn’t say what magazine it’s from, though it probably wouldn’t be all that hard to find out(sorry for being lazy).:,

    I also haven’t been able to find a scan of the rest of the article. I’m sure you probably have this in your archives someplace but figured since you didn’t have it handy and I came across it again, I’d link it(hope it works)

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s