NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Fans are leaving flowers, notes and candles outside the East Village townhouse of Ric Ocasek.

The lead singer and primary songwriter for the Hall of Fame band The Cars was found dead by his ex-wife Sunday afternoon.

Monday afternoon, the Medical Examiner’s office said Ocasek died of natural causes, namely hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, with pulmonary emphysema as a contributing condition.

“Ric was at home recuperating very well after surgery. Our two sons, Jonathan and Oliver, and I were making sure he was comfortable, ordering food and watching TV together. I found him still asleep when bringing him his Sunday morning coffee. I touched his cheek to rouse him. It was then I realized that during the night he had peacefully passed on. We appreciate the great outpouring of love. We, his family and friends, are completely and utterly devastated by his untimely and unexpected death and would appreciate the privacy to mourn in private,” the Ocasek family posted on social media.

The Cars knew how to let the good times roll with their mix of rock, new wave and pop.

Ocasek, known for his lanky frame and unique vocals, was the group’s lead singer, guitarist, and primary songwriter. The group made their mark with a string of hits in the late ’70s. They reached their peak popularity in the ’80s thanks to MTV-friendly videos, including “You Might Think.”

It was on the ballad “Drive” that Ocasek met his third wife, model Paulina Porizkova. The couple were married for 28 years. Porizkova announced their separation last year, shortly after the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

“I’d like to thank my loving family, because they know me pretty well but still like me anyway,” Ocasek joked during the ceremony.

After The Cars broke up in 1988, Ocasek went on to produce hit albums for younger bands, including Weezer, ensuring his musical legacy will continue for generations to come.