Quoting Benjamin

“I had total support from my parents, even when I was doing the pots-and-pans routine. I never got a ‘don’t do that,’ especially when I got involved with music.” — from “Benjamin Orr: The Cars’ Mr. Casual Steps Out” by Rob Tannenbaum, Musician Magazine, March 1987

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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

 

Quoting Benjamin

On his early days in bands: “Even back then, people had attitude problems or girlfriend problems. If a guy met a girl he thought was special, he’d choose to stay home. And the guys who chose to stay home are still home now.” — from “Benjamin Orr: The Cars’ Mr. Casual Steps Out” by Rob Tannenbaum, Musician Magazine, March 1987

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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

“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

Quoting Benjamin

On writing lyrics for The Lace: “I didn’t have a lot of success. Lyrics are my weakest point. I don’t listen to a song for the first five or six times for the lyrics, I listen for the melody. Never really pay attention to the lyrics until after that point. [My desire was] to tell a story. Just something you would actually say to someone, rather than one line and then something clever to rhyme with it.” — from “Benjamin Orr: The Cars’ Mr. Casual Steps Out” by Rob Tannenbaum, Musician Magazine, March 1987

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It reminds me of him.

273cf0b5359327e0feef28812a51d1a7“I was (and still am) aware of the good fortune that hard work has brought me. I don’t want to seem ungrateful. I also genuinely like people. I want to get to know them in a real way. I am bummed out at the concept that someone just wants a scribble from you, when it’s clear they’ve never seen your work, they just know you’re ‘famous.’

“I began to feel a counterintuitive, melancholy loneliness and even low-grade anger at these moments. I didn’t like the way it made me feel when a passing car full of teenage girls screeched to a halt, emptying the crazed occupants, who bull-rushed me, pointing, screaming, and laughing. Years later, someone will call this phenomenon ‘objectification.’ Then, I didn’t really know that I was being treated like an object. I did, however, begin to treat some people the way they treated me.”

— Rob Lowe, Stories I Only Tell My Friends

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