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Although he's best known as the leader, singer, rhythm guitarist, and songwriter for the Cars, Ric Ocasek has also produced for a wide variety of other artists over the years. Born Richard Otcasek in Baltimore, MD, on March 23, 1949, Otcasek was 16 when he became interested in music via such early rockers as Buddy Holly & the Crickets. In the early '70s, Otcasek moved from Cleveland to Boston and began playing in a folk band called Milkwood with friend Ben Orzechowski. They released a lone, forgotten album in 1973 called How's the Weather. When the record failed to chart, the group promptly split up, but Otcasek and Orzechowski would remain together. Inspired by proto-punk outfits the Modern Lovers, the Velvet Underground, and Roxy Music, they formed Rick & the Rabbits and changed their last names from Orzechowski to Orr, and Otcasek to Ocasek.
By the mid-'70s, the new band included additional members Greg Hawkes (keyboards/synths), Elliot Easton (guitar), and former Modern Lovers member Dave Robinson (drums). Shortly after, the quintet changed its name to the Cars (with Ocasek becoming the undisputed leader -- penning all of their tunes), resulting in a more streamlined sound and look, which fit in perfectly with the burgeoning new wave movement. Signed to Elektra, the group rocketed to stardom on the strength of their classic, mega-selling self-titled debut in 1978, and with further releases such as 1979's Candy-O, 1980's Panorama, and 1981's Shake It Up, the band became one of the top rock bands in the U.S. It was also during this time that Ocasek began to branch out artistically by producing for Suicide, Bad Brains, Romeo Void, and Iggy Pop, and issuing his 1982 solo debut Beatitude.
With the advent of MTV, the way a band looked proved almost just as important as the music, and the Cars seemed to be custom-made for the new channel as their 1984 release Heartbeat City became one of the year's biggest rock records, spawning several Top Ten singles and heavily rotated and stylish videos. Ocasek found himself in the tabloids around this time when he began dating, and eventually marrying, fashion model Paulina Porizkova (who had appeared in the video for the Cars' hit ballad "Drive"). 1986 saw Ocasek release his second solo effort, This Side of Paradise, before returning to the Cars for what would be their final album, 1987's mildly received Door to Door, before splitting up a year later.
Not much was heard from Ocasek immediately after the Cars' split, but he eventually resurfaced in 1990 with Fireball Zone. He subsequently released other solo works throughout the decade, including 1993's Quick Change World and Negative Theater, 1996's Getchertikitz (a collaboration with Suicide's Alan Vega), and 1997's Billy Corgan-produced Troublizing (for which he supported with a very brief tour, his first since leaving the Cars). Beginning in the mid-'90s, Ocasek began producing again for acts such as Bad Religion, Black 47, Johnny Bravo, D Generation, Guided By Voices, Hole, Possum Dixon, Martin Rev, Jonathan Richman, and both of Weezer's hit self-titled releases in 1994 and 2001. In 2005 the Sanctuary distribution family gave him his own label, Inverse, to develop new acts and released the first new Ocasek album in eight years, Nexterday.
Ric Ocasek (born Richard T. Otcasek; March 23, 1949) is an American musician and music producer. He is best known as lead vocalist (along with Benjamin Orr) and rhythm guitarist for the rock band, The Cars. When Ocasek was 16, his father, a Czech-born computer analyst for NASA, was transferred to Cleveland, Ohio. After graduating from Maple Heights High School in Maple Heights, Ohio, Ocasek then attended Bowling Green State University near Toledo, Ohio. He is married to model Pavlína Pořízková.
Early career 
In the early 1970s Ric Ocasek played in the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young-influenced folk band Milkwood with friend Ben Orzechowski (Ben Orr). The band released one album in 1972, How's the Weather, under the Paramount record label. The album had no success and quickly disappeared shortly after release, and Milkwood split up. It was then that Ric Ocasek and Ben Orr formed their new band, Richard and the Rabbits (a name suggested by Jonathan Richman). In 1974 Ric and Ben played as a duo at a south shore Boston Ground Round Restaurant, until a company V.P. stopped in one night and said they were not family-friendly entertainment, and had to let them go.
The Cars 
Ocasek's breakout success was as a founding member of the New Wave band Cap'n Swing, later renamed The Cars, which had numerous hit songs from 1978 to 1988; he played rhythm guitar and sang lead vocals. Ocasek was the principal songwriter of the band, and wrote nearly all of The Cars material, sharing credit on only a few songs with bandmate Greg Hawkes as co-writer. During his time with The Cars, Ocasek developed a reputation as a successful producer, and took this role for many up-and-coming bands of differing genres including, but not limited to Weezer, Bad Brains, Bad Religion, Nada Surf, No Doubt, Guided by Voices, Bran Van 3000, and Suicide, as well as some of The Cars albums and singles. In 2010, Ocasek reunited with the surviving original members of The Cars to record their first album in 24 years, titled Move Like This, which was released on May 10, 2011.
Solo career 
The singer released his first solo album in 1982. Beatitude is a somewhat more experimental variation of The Cars' New Wave rock sound. A more synthesizer-heavy follow up, This Side Of Paradise, was released in 1986. A No. 15 hit single, "Emotion in Motion", accompanied the album.
The Cars disbanded in 1988, and he disappeared from the public eye for a couple of years. He resurfaced in 1990 with his own album, Fireball Zone. One track, "Rockaway", enjoyed a brief stay on the charts, but his solo albums have seen disappointing sales, especially compared to his success with the Cars. He subsequently released other solo works throughout the decade, including 1993's Quick Change World, 1996's Getchertikitz (a collaboration with Suicide's Alan Vega comprising only beatnik poetry set to music, sound effects, etc.), and 1997's Billy Corgan-produced Troublizing (which Ocasek supported with a very brief tour, his first since leaving the Cars). In 2005 Ocasek released another album, Nexterday, to little fanfare, but it received positive reviews.
Ocasek has produced many records, both while working with The Cars and since then, such as Bad Brains' Rock for Light and Guided by Voices' Do the Collapse. His other production credits include Weezer's Blue Album & Green Album (both multi-platinum), Suicide, Romeo Void, Hole, Bebe Buell, No Doubt, Nada Surf, Irish folk-punk band Black 47, Bad Religion, Johnny Bravo, D Generation, The Wannadies, Possum Dixon, Martin Rev, Jonathan Richman, and, most recently, the 2006 album by The Pink Spiders titled Teenage Graffiti. He also produced a portion of the third Motion City Soundtrack album, Even If It Kills Me.
In other media 
Ocasek wrote a book of poetry, 1993's Negative Theatre. It was at one time expected to be incorporated into an album and multimedia incarnation of the same name, but those plans were dropped abruptly. For many years Ocasek had a hobby of making drawings, photo collages, and mixed-media art works which, in 2009, were shown at a gallery in his home town of Columbus, Ohio.
Ocasek had a cameo role in the John Waters feature film Hairspray, and had a bit part in the 1987 movie Made in Heaven in which he played a mechanic. He had a non-speaking role (beatnik painter) in Woody Allen's "Take the Money and Run" (1969).
Ocasek stated in a 2005 interview in Rockline that he hated touring and it was unlikely that he would do so again. He also stated he would not be reuniting with The Cars again, but gave the okay to his former bandmates to do so with Todd Rundgren replacing him on vocals (the resulting band is called The New Cars).
On April 17, 2006, Ocasek appeared on The Colbert Report and volunteered to put Todd Rundgren "on notice". He appeared again on the July 26, 2006, episode to cheers from the audience as he volunteered to lead a commando mission to "rescue" Stephen Jr., the baby eagle at the San Francisco Zoo named after Stephen Colbert. He also appeared again on April 18, 2007, in order to support his wife during her appearance on the show, after remarks that she found Colbert "extremely attractive". He has been mentioned many times in other episodes as well.
The Cars, with Ocasek, appeared on The Colbert Report on August 9, 2011, to promote their new album, Move Like This.
Personal life 
Ocasek has been married three times. He married early in life, but divorced and was married to his second wife, Suzanne Ocasek, in 1984. Ocasek was still married to Suzanne when he met model Pavlína Pořízková during filming of the music video for The Cars' song "Drive" (directed by Timothy Hutton) later that same year. At that time Pořízková was 19 years old and Ocasek was 35.
Five years after meeting (in 1989), Ocasek and Porizkova married. This was Ocasek's third marriage, and Porizkova's first. In 2009 the couple celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary and their 25th anniversary since they first met.
Ocasek has six sons, two from each of his three marriages.
He and co-founder of The Cars Benjamin Orr were known to be close friends. Their friendship was commemorated in a song Ocasek wrote as a dedication to Orr upon his death in 2000 ("Silver", from Nexterday).