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Benjamin Orr 10/2000

Benjamin OrrOctober 3, 2000 – Benjamin Orr/Benjamin Orzechowski (The Cars) was born September 8, 1947 in Lakewood, Ohio. He learned to play many instruments including the guitar, drums, bass, and keyboards. In his early days he was known as “Bennie Eleven-Letters” and dropped out of High School to play in local bands such as Mixed Emotions and The Grasshoppers as lead singer and guitarist. The latter was the house band on the syndicated TV show Upbeat produced by WEWS-TV in Cleveland.

In 1970 he moved to Columbus, Ohio, where he met Ric Ocasek and formed a musical partnership that would continue to the end of his life. Along with lead guitarist Jas Goodkind, they formed a folk band called Milkwood. The group released one album, “How’s the Weather?” in 1972. By the mid 1970s he was working in a Boston night club band, Cap’n Swing, whose members included future Cars leader Ric Ocasek and guitarist Elliot Easton.

After the group broke up in 1975, the three of them joined up with keyboardist Greg Hawkes and drummer David Robinson to form The Cars in 1976. After several top hits and multi-platinum albums with The Cars, he released his only solo project The Lace in 1986. Ben continued to work with The Cars for one more album before their breakup in 1988, after which he recorded tracks with guitarist John Kalishes.

From 1998 until his death in 2000, he performed with three bands, including his own band “ORR”, The Voices of Classic Rock, and Big People. He died of pancreatic cancer at age 53.

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