In other words:

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Ben and David at the Agora, 1978. Photo by Janet Macoska

On the first time he saw Ben play: “I can remember seeing Ben’s and Ric’s names around town as another band, Cap’n Swing, but it wasn’t the same places that I was going to at the time, so I hadn’t gotten to see them play live. Then a mutual friend of mine and Ric’s, Maxanne Sartori, had mentioned them to me, and she thought they were good, so I went and saw Cap’n Swing at Paul’s Mall. They were kind of a mish-mash group of people, and when they came out, Ben was wearing these white satin karate pajamas and flip flops!

“I remember thinking, ‘What kind of look is this?’ Ben only sang and didn’t play the bass, but I did notice right away how great his voice was! The music was quirky-pop sounding, and not really coming from a hip place but a more nerdy place, so I wasn’t overly impressed.” — David Robinson, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars by Joe Milliken, p. 70.

In other words:

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Liberty and Ben, July, 1999

“A man’s man, Ben smoked Marlboro cigarettes, drank alcohol, drove a four-wheel-drive SUV, and chopped wood at his house in the mountains of Vermont. But when he went on stage in his black leather pants, brightly colored shirt, long black trench coat, and black cowboy boots, he drove the ladies wild. I’d look out into the crowd when we played ‘Drive’ and watch all the women smile at Ben, hanging on to every word he was singing.” — Liberty DeVitto, 2020, Liberty: Life, Billy, and the Pursuit of Happiness

In other words:

On Ben joining The Mixed Emotions: “When he first showed up to our rehearsal I was really impressed. I said to myself, ‘Now here’s someone who has got it all. The musical talent, good looks, and the personality.’ Well, he was cool with the band and joined right then and there.” — Chris Kamburoff, former Mixed Emotions band mate, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars by Joe Milliken

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Ben and Chris Kamburoff, July, 1966. Photo uploaded by Chris Kamburoff.

In other words:

On Ben’s diagnosis and death: “That was crazy. I went to see him. He was pretty strong; I have to say that. Very strong, considering he knew very well that he didn’t have very many days to live. It was very sad. It’s hard to even comprehend, because a year before that, there was nothing wrong. So no one really expected that.

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Sorry for the crummy screen shot… spj

“To make it more sad, he had a little boy who was about four at that point, and when I went to see Ben in Atlanta, his little boy was there, too. It was sad for me, because I have kids, like, ‘Oh my God, the poor little kid doesn’t even barely know what’s gonna happen.’ I guess I didn’t really believe it. I was asking some people around, ‘Well, how long do you think?’ They were going, ‘A few weeks.’ I said, ‘Nah. You gotta be kidding.’ But there’s no way to get out from under pancreatic cancer, from what I understand. It’s a horrible thing to have.” — Ric Ocasek, Magnet Magazine interview, 2005

 

In other words:

“Ben and I really got along great, and while most rock stars have big egos, Ben had no ego whatsoever and was really just a regular guy. He was even a bit isolated and pretty much kept to himself.

“Musically, Ben was very serious and all business in the studio and, as everyone knows, simply had an amazing voice and vocal inflection. My music experience with Ben was very enjoyable, and he really made you feel like he was your peer, and not some opinionated ‘rock star’ looking down at you.” — Adrian Medeiros, Boston musician and writer of “Send Me,” Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars, by Joe Milliken

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Ben Orr, Renee Devine, and Adrian Medeiros in the studio, mid 1990s. Photo by John Kalishes

In other words:

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Photo courtesy of Judith Orr; shared with permission.

“Was this for real? Here was this incredible man I loved saying the most romantic words. He bent down on one knee and pulled out a stunning diamond ring. He brought me to Weston to propose on my birthday… Who could say no to that?

“We were only engaged for a month and we had the most spectacular tropical island wedding in the Fern Grotto in Kauai, Hawaii. Ben planned it all himself while I was working. It couldn’t have been more perfect.” — Judith Orr, excerpt from Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars by Joe Milliken

In other words:

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Diane and Ben on the video set for “Too Hot To Stop,” 1987 (Photo credit: Jim Mahoney, The Boston Herald)

“I remember one of the happiest days of my life was when we did our first promotional tour for the album. We were in Cleveland and riding in the backseat of the promoter’s car when ‘Stay the Night’ came on the radio for the first time. We were so excited and yelling like kids!” — Diane Grey Page, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars by Joe Milliken

In other words:

“Ben was just a terrific singer… he reminded me of Rutger Hauer but with a great voice! I didn’t know The Cars well in the early days, but got to know Ben a little bit in his post-Cars days. He was a great guy, very talented, and a real pro in the studio.” — Charlie Farren, Boston-area vocalist and guitar player, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars, by Joe Milliken

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1993. Charlie Farren (top left) and Brad Delp (bottom right) sang the backing vocals on Ben’s unreleased second solo album. Photo courtesy of Charlie Farren

In other words:

“Our personal relationship had its ups and downs, as Ben was a very complex person and could be moody. Plus, I was only in my twenties, but fortunately we did remain friends through it all. Ben was somewhat intense and seemed introverted, but he was really just taking time to get to know you, then he would open up a little more. He was quite a character once I got to know him, and he always had something fun or creative going on. The man never sat still!” — David Frangioni, recording engineer and producer, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars by Joe Milliken, p. 159

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L-R: Vocalists Charlie Farren and Brad Delp, engineer and co-producer David Frangioni, and Ben Orr, during the 1993 recording sessions for Ben’s second (unreleased) solo album. Photo courtesy of David Frangioni; used with permission.

In other words:

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The Cars, c. 1977; Danny Louis on the far right.

“Ben was a good friend, and we played a lot of great music together in just a few short years. We were pals. I’ve only known a few great singers who were pure ‘naturals’ like Ben. He just opened his mouth to sing and sounded perfect—like a hit record.

“His musicianship was stellar, and he was just a very fun guy to know and hang out with. He was consistently a good and kind fellow, and I’ll always miss him and remember fondly all the good times we spent together.” — Danny Louis of Gov’t Mule, formerly with Cap’n Swing and founding member of The Cars, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars by Joe Milliken, p. 65

 

In other words:

“Our objective was to make a very radio-sounding pop record. And the songs dictated that direction. They weren’t the type of thing you’d want to superimpose some kind of quirky approach to, just to be interesting. Since it’s very pop-sounding, some people are just gonna turn off to it right away. But if people listen to it carefully, there’s some real interesting textural stuff going on there.” — Larry Klein, co-producer of The Lace, from “Benjamin Orr: The Cars’ Mr. Casual Steps Out” by Rob Tannenbaum, Musician Magazine, March 1987

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Larry Klein, phootograph by James Minchin III

In other words:

larry klein 2.jpg“We were searching for some sounds with some humor, because Ben’s writing is very quirky, with a lot of non sequiturs and strange juxtaposition of words. In that way, it’s similar to The Cars.” — Larry Klein, co-producer of The Lace, from “Benjamin Orr: The Cars’ Mr. Casual Steps Out” by Rob Tannenbaum, Musician Magazine, March 1987