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Stephen Colbert Pays Tribute to The Cars’ Ric Ocasek: “His Music Was the Soundtrack of My High School”

Stephen Colbert has joined the growing list of celebrities and artists who are paying tribute to the late Cars frontman Ric Ocasek. On the Monday, September 16 episode of The Late Show, Colbert spoke about a surprise encounter with Ocasek on one of his first visits to New York: “I was just visiting some friends in college. I was down in Greenwich Village, getting a cup of coffee, sitting on the sidewalk, and Ric fucking Ocasek walked by! And I went, ‘I have to move here. Ric Ocasek lives here?’”

He went on: “The first album, Cars, The Cars: It is packed with hits—like peanuts in a Snickers bar. That, and My Aim Is True by Elvis Costello, are some of the greatest pop albums of all time. 1978, Ric Ocasek was already 34 years old when their first album came out. He had put in the hours. And his music—he wrote everything for The Cars—and his music was the soundtrack of my high school. The Cars, The Cars came out when I was a freshman. Next year, Candy-O. Next year, Panorama. Then, Shake It Up. And I couldn’t believe it when Ric Ocasek came on The Colbert Report. I got to meet one of my greatest musical heroes.”

The New York City medical examiner said Ocasek died of heart disease; his family revealed in a statement posted to the Cars’ Instagram account that he was “recuperating very well after surgery” at the time of his death.