The Music Box Hosts Release Party for Book on The Cars’ Ben Orr, a Cleveland Native

Ben Orr at Blossom Music Center in the 80s

Sat 1/12 @ 7PM

Cleveland will claim anyone famous as its own, even if they left town at the age of 2. But it has a legitimate claim to the Cars, the ’80s new wave band out of Boston. Its two frontmen, guitarist/lead vocalist Ric Ocasek and lead vocalist/bassist Ben Orr, who wrote the group’s songs, met in the Cleveland area, where Orr was born and raised (in Lakewood and Parma) and Ocasek moved as a teenager (graduating from Maple Heights High School).

By the mid ’70s, they had both moved to Boston and worked their way through a success of bands before forming the Cars in 1978, influenced by the rise of cool, synth-based, mechanical sounds acts such as Talking Heads and Devo, who combined a flat, emotionless delivery with catchy tunes. They became the most successful of all those bands, selling tens of millions of albums in their decade as a recording act. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year.

While there have been multiple books about the band, Joe Milliken’s new book, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and the Cars, focuses on the Clevelander, born Benjamin Orzechowksi, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2000 at the age of 53.

Known to readers of Jane Scott’s popular music news column in the Plain Dealer as “Benny 11-letters,” he was a local celebrity while still in his teens. Not that that was unusual at the time: The vibrant local music scene teemed with high school bands inspired by the Beatles. Orr performed with the Grasshoppers and appearing regularly on the Cleveland-based, nationally syndicated Upbeat Show. The New England-based Milliken interviewed more than 120 family, friends and associates from all phases of Orr’s life.

Milliken will appear at the Music Box Supper Club for a release party for the book. He’ll give a 45-minute presentation, followed by a 90-minure performance by Ohio Cars tribute band Moving in Stereo.

Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door.



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