RIC Ocasek, lead singer of rock band The Cars, has died aged 75.

He was found dead on Sunday afternoon at his townhouse in Manhattan, according to the New York Police Department. No cause of death was available on Sunday night.

The NYPD said they received a call around 4pm about "an unconscious male" in East 19th Street, the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information said.

There were no signs of foul play and a post-mortem is to take place, the NYPD said.

The Cars, led by Mr Ocasek, was an integral part of the new wave movement when they emerged in 1978, with early UK hits My Best Friend's Girl and Just What I Needed.

But it was in the early 80s that they had their biggest UK success when their song Drive having reached the top 10 in 1984, was used in a video of the Ethiopian famine prepared by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and introduced by David Bowie at the 1985 Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium in London. It hit the top ten in the UK again.

Proceeds from the sales of the re-released song raised nearly £160,000 for the Band Aid Trust. 

The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers was among the first to pay tribute to Mr Ocasek sharing the text of an email he wrote to him a few years ago on Twitter, saying: “Feeling grateful for Ric. Had the opportunity to send him this email a couple years back. My first king. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

In the email, Mr Flowers told The Cars front man how much the band meant to him.

“I just wanted to reach out and make you aware of my gratitude for you and your band’s contribution to my life,” he wrote before explaining how he discovered the Cars’ music in his early teens.

Independence and even adrenaline rushed through me on my way to the register to purchase The Cars’ Greatest Hits,” Mr Flowers said. “It set me on the path towards the adult I would become, towards the job I have (which is the best job in the world), even towards the woman I would be blessed to marry.”

Canadian star Bryan Adams wrote: "RIP Ric Ocasek. Great songwriter and singer for the Cars #RIPRicOcasek"
Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, real name Michael Balzary, wrote on Instagram: "Ahh man, say it ain't so. I loved Ric Ocasek.

"What an interesting, smart, kind, funny man who made incredible records. I loved those Cars albums when I was a teenager.

"Perfect pop songs with those wicked Elliot Easton guitar solos. Absolute candy.

"Then he went and produced Rock For Light by the Bad Brains. As an adult I met him several times and he was gracious, funny and engaging. Ahh man.

"Ahh damn. Bless his soul. R.I.P. Transcend to the other side Ric. So much love and appreciation from me. You're All I Got Tonight."

English punk rocker Billy Idol wrote: "Sorry to hear about Ric Ocasek RIP. Loved his work with the band"
Canadian musician Carl Newman said: "I will never stop imitating the first Cars album.

"His influence will always stay with me. RIP and Thank You to Ric Ocasek."

In May last year, model and actress Paulina Porizkova announced on social media that she and Ocasek had separated after 28 years of marriage.

The pair first met while filming the music video for Drive.

The band formed in 1976 in Boston, Massachusetts and consisted of singer-songwriter Ocasek, bassist and singer Benjamin Orr, lead guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboardist Greg Hawkes and drummer David Robinson.

After the band broke up in the late 1980s, Ocasek embarked on a solo career as well as working as a producer for artists including Bad Religion and No Doubt.

Mr Orr died in 2000 from pancreatic cancer but the remaining members of The Cars re-formed in 2011 to release a final album and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine ahead of the band's induction, Mr Ocasek described playing there as "a good cap on the bottle" after so many years.

"It's kind of weird because it's like a lifetime," Mr Ocasek said while looking back at the history of The Cars. "It is a lifetime. I had three families during that time. They are like lives that go by and millions of people and things and artists and writers and business people and fans. ... It's a lot of stuff. It's been a pretty eventful life, I can say."