Formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1976, The Cars is a new wave rock band that is composed of singer, rhythm guitarist Ric Ocasek, lead guitarist Elliot Easton, drummer David Robinson, keyboardist Greg Hawkes, and bassist Benjamin Orr. They are one of the most successful American new wave band in the late 70s spawning several platinum albums and top 40 singles. Their first two albums entitled The Cars and Candy-O are new wave classics. And even though The Cars broke up in 1988, their music and influence never faded.
History and Career
Roc Ocasek and Ben Orr met in Cleveland in the 1960s when Roc Ocasek saw Ben Orr performed with his band The Grasshoppers on a local music variety program. Since then, the two were involved with different bands in Ohio, Columbus, and Michigan. The two relocated in Boston in 1970s with Jas Goodkind as their lead guitarist and they formed the band named Milkwood. They released one album entitled “How’s the Weather” under Paramount Records but unfortunately, the album failed to make it in the charts. And in 1974, Roc Ocasek and Ben Orr formed the band Cap N’ Swing which included Elliot Easton as their lead guitarist. They have been popular in the Boston music scene but they later broke up in 1975. Ocasek, Easton, and Orr then formed a band named The Cars in 1976 with Greg Hawkes as the keyboardist and Dave Robinson as their drummer.
The Cars made their demo tape entitled “Just What I Needed” in 1977 and sent it out to a local influential Boston radio station and the song became one of the station’s most requested song. The Cars played gigs on local clubs around Boston before signing a record deal with Elektra Records in late 1977. The Cars’ debut album was released in the summer of 1978 and they slowly built a fanbase because of their hit singles “My Best Friend’s Girl”, “Good Times Roll”, and “Just What I Needed”. The album stayed in the charts for almost two and a half years and has sold more than six million copies.
In 1979, The Cars released their second album entitled “Candy-O” which became an instant hit and climbed the charts and quickly became a platinum album in just two months. The album included the hit song “Let’s Go” which was able to enter the top ten of the charts. In the 1980’s they released their third album, “Panorama”. Even though it was not a big hit compared to their two previous album, it still entered the top five and went platinum.
In the fall of 1981, The Cars released their fourth album entitled “Shake It Up”, the title track became the band’s first top ten single and the album quickly went platinum. After the success of this album, The Cars’ recorded a soundtrack for the short film “Chapter-X”. But after that, they took an extended leave. Roc Ocasek grabbed this chance to release his solo album in 1982.
In 1983, The Cars got back on the track and recorded their fifth album entitled “Heartbeat City” which was later released in 1984. The album’s first single “You Might Think” became a hit because of its innovative computer-animated music video. The song became a top ten hit and sent the album Heartbreak City into the third spot of the albums charts. The Cars released three more hit songs like “Magic”, “Hello Again”, and “Drive” which send the record into triple platinum status.
The Cars went into Hiatus in 1985 and 1986. During this time, Greg Easton and Ben Orr both released their album. and in 1987, The Cars released their seventh album entitled “Door to Door”. After this, The Cars confirmed the rumors that they have broken up and all of the members have pursued their solo careers.
On October 3, 2000 Benjamin Orr passed away due to pancreatic cancer. Since then, a few of The Cars album appeared in the market which includes a live concert DVD of their concert in Germany in 1979, a deluxe edition of their first self-titled album and a Greatest Hits album. The band had a brief reunion in 2018 because of their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. And The Cars have been inactive and their website has not been updated since then.