Benjamin Orr

Benjamin Orr

American bass guitarist and one of the vocalists of the New Wave rock band “The Cars”
Date of Birth: 08.09.1947
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Benjamin Orr
  2. Early Life and Musical Beginnings
  3. The Grasshoppers and Milkwood
  4. The Cars and Solo Career
  5. Later Years and Legacy
  6. Final Days and Death

Biography of Benjamin Orr

Early Life and Musical Beginnings

Benjamin Orzechowski, known as Benjamin Orr, was born on September 8, 1947, in Lakewood, Ohio, USA. He came from a family of Russian and Czechoslovakian descent. With the support of his parents, Orr learned to play the guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, and drums. Growing up in Parma, Ohio, he attended Valley Forge High School but dropped out to pursue his musical career.

Benjamin Orr

The Grasshoppers and Milkwood

In Parma, Orr joined the local band called The Grasshoppers and became its lead vocalist and guitarist. The group released two singles in 1965, including Orr's own composition "Pink Champagne (And Red Roses)." The band disbanded in 1967 when two members were drafted into the army. Around 1970, Orr moved to Columbus, Ohio, where he met Ric Ocasek. They formed a folk group called Milkwood, along with guitarist Jas Goodkind. Milkwood released their only album, "How's the Weather?," in 1972, which unfortunately did not achieve commercial success.

Benjamin Orr

The Cars and Solo Career

During the mid-1970s, Orr worked with the Boston band Cap'n Swing, which included Ocasek and guitarist Elliot Easton, future members of The Cars. After Cap'n Swing disbanded in 1975, Orr, Ocasek, Easton, keyboardist Greg Hawkes, and drummer David Robinson formed the new wave rock band, The Cars, in 1976. Orr played a key role in the group's success, contributing to hits such as "Drive," which reached the third position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. After several more hits and multi-platinum releases with The Cars, Orr released his only solo album, "The Lace," in 1986. Although he wrote all the music and lyrics for the album, only one song, "Stay the Night," reached the Top 40, while the single "Too Hot to Stop" did not break into the Hot 100.

Later Years and Legacy

While continuing to work with The Cars on another album, Orr unofficially left the band in 1987. After the breakup of The Cars, he recorded several tracks with guitarist John Kalishes in the mid-1990s. From 1998 until his death, Orr performed as a member of two side projects. In April 2000, Orr was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer but continued to perform with the band Big People at summer music festivals and city fairs. He reunited with former members of The Cars for an interview in Atlanta, Georgia, which was featured in the video "Rhino Records" and included on the DVD of The Cars' performance at a German concert in 1979.

Final Days and Death

Orr's last public appearance was on September 27, 2000, performing with Big People at a concert in Anchorage, Alaska. Six days later, he passed away at the age of 53 in Atlanta, Georgia, surrounded by members of Big People, at the home of his friend Julie Snider. Ric Ocasek dedicated the song "Silver" to Orr, which was included in his solo album "Nexterday" released in 2005.