Ben Orr

Cleveland native Benjamin Orzechowski learned to play every instrument a rock band could use before he dropped out of high school to become a session guitarist. Switching to keyboards, he met guitarist Ric Ocasek, with whom he played in a band for a while in New York. After parting ways, they later re-teamed and moved to Boston, joining guitarist Elliott Easton, drummer David Robinson, and all-around instrumentalist Greg Hawkes, to form The Cars in 1977. Orr often sang lead, as in “Just What I Needed” and the #3 Billboard hit “Drive,” and stayed with the band till they broke up in 1987. He put out a solo album in 1986, The Lace, had a hit with “Stay the Night,” played on two Joni Mitchell albums, and later played in the bands ORR and Big People. Orr died from pancreatic cancer in 2000, a few months after reuniting with The Cars for the documentary The Cars Live. Orr was thanked by the remaining Cars in the liner notes to their 2011 album Move Like This: “Ben, your spirit was with us on this one.”
(by Ed Symkus)

Published on December 28, 2012