The Ric Ocasek Columbus connection (UPDATED)
Ric Ocasek, lead singer of the Cars, died at home in New York City on Sunday at age 75, police said.
Ocasek, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, has a loose Ohio connection, having moved to Cleveland with his family at age 16. Around 1967, according to Ocasek in a 2018 interview with Cleveland.com, the frontman relocated to Columbus, forming the band Id Nirvana with the late Ben Orr.
"Ben came to a gig we were playing at a bar. He and his girlfriend at the time were booking bands, and he came up to us and said, 'I like your band. I sing, too,’” Ocasek told the outlet. "He grabbed an acoustic guitar and he sang 'Yesterday,' and I thought, 'Jesus, this guy's amazing!’”
In a 2013 Pitchfork feature on Musicol Recording Studio, Alive Associate Editor Joel Oliphint reported that Id Nirvana once recorded at the famed local studio. According to the Buckeye Beat, the band captured four songs at Musicol beginning in 1968 and rolling over into '69: "Good Things," "Wake," "Love Like Fire" and "Chalice." None of the songs have been released.
Around 1970, Ocasek and Orr moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, forming the band Leatherwood after Id Nirvana broke up. The pair would later end up in Boston, forming the new wave rock band the Cars.
The Ocasek family connection to Columbus continued with Ric Ocasek’s son, Adam Otcasek, who operated the now-closed Mahan Gallery with his partner. In 2009, the gallery even hosted a collection of Ric Ocasek’s art, “Noise Colored Party,” featuring more than 150 drawings and photographs made over nearly two decades.
"It was a way for me to think,” Ocasek told Alive about the drawings in 2009. “Some of them are real tense — they could be a bad phone call. But some of them are, well, more calming to me."
In addition, Columbus musician and producer RJD2 recorded a remix of “Through the Walls” with the late Cars singer.
UPDATE: RJD2 replied to an emailed request for comment on the collaboration:
So I had recently completed this song ("Through The Walls") that was, for all intents and purposes, an homage to the Cars (however cheeky that may be). At some point, I got the crazy idea to see if Ric would actually sing the song, which seemed totally implausible, but hey, what's the worst that can happen in asking? I think the album with the version of me singing it was already off to mastering, if memory serves properly, but we still sent it to him. To all of our shock, he was up for it. We booked a session at Electric Ladyland with Ric Ocasek, and if that sentence doesn't bend your mind even slightly, then shit, I don't know what to tell you. Ric was really easy to work with, and really down to take direction. I, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck, stumbling over my words, etc., etc., as I had no idea how I found myself in one of the worlds' most prestigious studios with a stone cold legend that I was a HUGE fan of. He probably sensed that, and was very approachable and at ease. The whole session was honestly kind of a blur. We went out the studio with a completed take of the song that later was released on a 7-inch single. I still to this day am shocked that I made a song in my bedroom that somehow ended up being sung by Ric Ocasek and released into the world.
Give a listen to the song below.