NEW YORK (AFP) – Ric Ocasek, frontman and lead singer of new wave innovator The Cars, was found dead in his townhouse on Sunday (Sept 15), police said.

The New York Police Department said it received a call at about 4pm “for an unconscious male at East 19th Street. He was pronounced dead at the scene”, and the body was identified as Ocasek.

There were no signs of foul play in the 75-year-old’s death, newspaper USA Today reported.

Under Ocasek’s leadership, The Cars brought quirky electronic effects of new wave to classically structured pop songs, generating a string of hits such as You Might Think, Shake It Up and Drive in the 1980s.

After breaking up later in the decade, the group reunited in 2011 after Ocasek wrote new songs he believed would sound best if played with his old bandmates, USA Today said.

In 2018, The Cars was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with Bon Jovi, Moody Blues, Dire Straits, Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

But Ocasek said nothing beat the thrill of initially breaking into the music industry.

“It’s a long way from standing by a phone booth in the rain… waiting for a call from LA to see if someone listened to our demo,” he told USA Today in 1987.

“The first time you ever see your name in print, when you have nothing else, you can live on that for months, even if they spelt it wrong.

“Later, all the successes that mount up are extremely easy to forget. You can’t go back and live on those.”

Ocasek and his wife of almost 30 years, supermodel Paulina Porizkova, 54, split up last year. The couple, who have two sons together, met when she starred in the video for 1984’s Drive.

“Our family has always been – and still is – a well-built car. When the four of us are together, we can go wherever the road takes us,” she posted on Instagram to reveal their separation in 2018. “But as a bicycle, my husband and I no longer pedal in unison. So, we’re ditching the bicycle.”

Celebrity magazine TMZ reported that Ocasek was found in his bed on Sunday by Porizkova.