Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars
This was a well-researched book about The Cars and Benjamin Orr, born Orzechowski aka “Benny 11-Letters” because so many of his friends and acquaintances had trouble pronouncing his name. He was almost universally liked as he was making his way in the music business, seemingly a genuinely nice and caring man. Ben was also quite talented when it came to singing and drumming, and learning other musical instruments from what many of his friends had to say in the book. You certainly could use a scorecard for this one to keep up with all of the band incarnations and band member rotations. I was amazed at the number of times the name of the band changed, and it didn’t always depend on whether any members were moved in or out. There were some interesting anecdotes in the book of things that happened to the band members.
The Grasshoppers dissolved in 1965. Orr joined a band called The Proof Sets, playing for about 6 months before changing the name to The Mixed Emotions, playing extensively all over Ohio. Then that band ended in 1967. Then they were The Rush for a while. Then near the end of 1967 several of them got back together again and became the band Colours with Ben and Wayne Weston, John Matuska, and a new manager, a local promoter named Bob Bobchuck They stayed busy with gigs and even cut a single, “You Came into My Life.” Things were going well and they had some interest from Roulette Records in Florida. They were driving down to meet with them when they called home and got a message that Ben had to fly back immediately because he’d been drafted. Everything stopped right then. It took a year before he could get out on a hardship discharge, being the only son. By this time it was 1969 and he had mixed feelings about a music career, as he’d be starting all over basically.
I do however confess to being a great fan of The Cars back in the day, I just loved them and listened all the time. I was surprised to learn in the book that Ric Ocasek also modified his name. It was Richard Otcasek struggling as a draftsman for Ohio Bell, starting out. He also had a band called ID Nirvana he formed in 1967. He met Ben in 1968. They started playing together after Orr joined the band, and they began opening for shows for such Ohio notables as The Bob Seger System, Alice Cooper, The Lemon Pipers and The Strawberry Alarm Clock. To make ends meet, Ric also managed a clothing store called Family Britches, hiring Ben too. They would later become The Cars and famous, The rest is in the book and history. This would be a good read for fans of The Cars or Ben Orr. My thanks for the advance electronic copy that was provided by NetGalley, author Joe Milliken, and the publisher for my fair review.
Rowman & Littlefield 216
Pub: Nov 11th, 2018
RATED: 3.5/5 Stars
The Author— Joe Milliken has been a music journalist, editor, and website publisher for 20 years. A life-long rock music fan with a degree in visual arts, Joe would turn to writing as his creative outlet, starting as a local reporter, then a Sports/Arts & Entertainment editor, while also freelancing for various national publications. In 2014, he launched Standing Room Only, a website dedicated to promoting music, the arts and specialty food on both a local (Boston, New England) and national level. Originally from Boston, he now resides in southern Vermont with his family. Let’s Go is his first book.