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Benjamin Orr

Benjamin Orr was born Benjamin Orzechowski in Lakewood, Ohio to parents of Polish, Russian, Czechoslovakian and German descent, who actively supported his musical endeavors. He became proficient in several instruments including the guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, and drums. Known locally as "Benny 11-Letters," he grew up in Lakewood, Ohio, and Parma, Ohio, and attended Valley Forge High School before joining a local band the Grasshoppers as lead singer and guitarist in 1964. The Grasshoppers were the house band on the syndicated TV show Upbeat produced by WEWS-TV in Cleveland. In 1965, the Grasshoppers released two singles on the Sunburst label, "Mod Socks" and "Pink Champagne (and Red Roses)", the latter written by Orzechowski. The Grasshoppers dissolved in 1966 when two of the band members were drafted into the U.S. Army, after which Orzechowski joined the band Mixed Emotions. Later Orzechowski was drafted as well, although he received a deferment after approximately a year and a half in the Army.

Orr first met Ric Ocasek, the future leader of the Cars, in Cleveland about 1968 or 1969.[4] Around 1970, Orr moved to Columbus, Ohio where he and Ocasek formed a musical partnership that would continue in various incarnations until the break-up of the Cars in 1988. After moving to Boston, the two formed a folk band called Milkwood with guitarist James Goodkind. In 1973, the group released one album, How's the Weather?, which failed to chart. Remaining in Boston, Ocasek and Orr then formed another band, Richard and the Rabbits, featuring keyboardist Greg Hawkes, followed by another band, Cap'n Swing, which included guitarist Elliot Easton. After the group broke up in 1976, the three of them along with Hawkes and drummer David Robinson formed the Cars.

As a member of the Cars, Orr sang lead vocal on some of the band's best known songs, including their first top 40 hit "Just What I Needed", "Let's Go," and on "Drive", their highest-charting U.S. single.

Orr released his only solo album, The Lace, in 1986. He co-wrote the music and lyrics with his long-time girlfriend, Diane Grey Page, and the album had one top 40 hit, "Stay the Night". The song was a top 10 album rock hit and the video was in heavy rotation on MTV. A second single "Too Hot to Stop" was also released, but did not chart in the Billboard Hot 100. The album cover for The Lace featured Orr on the front and Page on the back.

Orr continued to work with the Cars for one more album, Door to Door, and tour before the group disbanded in 1988, after which he and the other members pursued solo work. Sometime in the mid-1990s, Orr recorded tracks with guitarist John Kalishes for an unreleased follow-up to The Lace. From 1998 until his death in 2000, he performed with his own band ORR and two side bands, "The Voices of Classic Rock" with Mickey Thomas and John Cafferty, and "Big People", which was a cover band with Pat Travers (of the Pat Travers Band), Jeff Carlisi (of 38 Special), Derek St. Holmes (of Ted Nugent), and Liberty DeVitto (of Billy Joel).

Benjamin Orr (September 8, 1947 – October 3, 2000) was the bass guitar player and one of the vocalists for the New Wave band The Cars. He sang several of The Cars' greatest hits, including "Just What I Needed", "Let's Go" and "Drive".
His final public appearance was on September 27, 2000 in a Big People concert in Anchorage, Alaska.
Six days later, he passed away at home in Atlanta.

 

80's Hits

Stay The Night

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