Remembering The Cars' Benjamin Orr

(Gibson) On this day in 2000, The Cars' singer and bass player Benjamin Orr died of cancer at home in Atlanta at the age of 53. Gibson takes a look back: Although Ric Ocasek will forever be the most identifiable figure in The Cars (and, if you've ever seen him, how could he not be?), some of the band's biggest hits were sung by member Benjamin Orr. The group's bassist sang lead on tunes such as "Just What I Needed," "Let's Go" and their highest-charting single, "Drive." While there have been rumors of a Cars reunion, sadly, Orr won't be able to take part. He passed away on this day in 2000.

Long before he helped found The Cars in 1976, Orr was born Benjamin Orzechowski in Lakewood, Ohio in 1947. As a young musician growing up in the Cleveland suburbs, he took to all sorts of instruments, including guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. Becoming well-known as "Benny 11-Letters," Orr dropped out of high school to sing lead and play guitar in a local band named The Grasshoppers. The group became the house band on the syndicated, Cleveland-based series Upbeat, and even released a couple of singles, one written by Orr.

However, the group disbanded in 1967 when two of the members were drafted for the Vietnam War. Orr was drafted soon after, although he only spent about a year and a half in the army because of a deferment. Once out of the service, Orr moved to Columbus in 1970, where he met Ric Ocasek at a party. The two would become friends and musical partners for the next two decades. more on this story

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