The Cars

The Cars bio, timeline, discography, pics & more

  • The Cars band mid 80s

    The Cars photo 1984

The Cars Biography

Singer + rhythm guitarist Ric Ocasek formed The Cars in Boston, Massachusetts USA, in 1976, with fellow Ohio native singer + bassist Benjamin Orr; they joined up with guitarist Elliot Easton, keyboardist Greg Hawkes and drummer David Robinson and in a few years the quintet became one of the leading American New Wave-Rock bands.

The Cars signed a record deal with Elektra in 1977 as a result of a local Boston radio station's incessant playing of a "Just What I Needed"; not long after this song became extremely popular reaching #27 on the Pop Singles Sales chart and helped send the band's self-titled debut album to #18 on The Billboard 200. Released in mid-1978, the album, was certified platinum that fall; since then, the CD has continued to win fans, with certification for sales of 6 million by 1995. The second single, "My Best Friend's Girl", not only hit the top 40 Stateside but became a big smash on the other side of the Atlantic and the final single, "Good Times Roll", reached #41 on The Billboard Hot 100.

Continuing along the streamlined Pop-Rock paths of its predecessor, their sophomore effort, "Candy-O", arrived in June 1979 and went straight to #3 on The Pop Albums chart while the inaugural single, "Let's Go", grabbed a #14 spot on The Billboard Hot 100 and its follow-up, "It's All I Can Do", peaked at #41 on the same chart. "Candy-O" went platinum by the end of the year and was certified quadruple platinum in 2001.

In August 1980 The Cars cranked out their third outing "Panorama"; the album made a strong debut at #5 on the Billboard's Top 200 LPs & Tapes chart but not commercial in nature at all in terms of hits, infact the disc generated only one top 40 single with "Touch And Go".

For their next album, the Boston group decided to challenge their fans with the synth-driven album "Shake It Up". Released in November 1981, it quickly bulleted into the top 10 of The Billboard 200 while the up-tempo title-track hit #4 on The Billboard Hot 100 and #2 on The Mainstream Rock charts. The Billboard's Rock chart was also grazed by three more well-known singles: the melancholic "Since You're Gone", the rocking "Cruiser" and the more Pop-oriented "Victim Of Love". "Shake It Up", which contained other lesser-known highlights such as the B-side opener and almost entirely synth-oriented "A Dream Away", ultimately received two times platinum certification.

In the fall of 1982 iconic frontman Ric Ocasek, the sole lyricist and main songwriter for The Cars, released his first solo album, "Beatitude".

Ocasek, reunited with his old pals, literally shook things up two years later, co-producing "Heartbeat City" with Robert John 'Mutt' Lange, resulting in the most ambitious album of The Cars' discography. The album rose to #3 on The Billboard Top 200 chart upon its March 1984 release and was also among their most successful, with five top 40 pop hits. The first single, "You Might Think", rocketed to #7 on The Billboard Hot 100 and hit #1 on The Mainstream Rock chart; the follow-up, the summer poppy anthem "Magic" reached #12 on Hot 100 Pop Sales list. The third single, the haunting and sombre Ben Orr-sung ballad "Drive", was a worlwide smash and the band's highest-charting U.S. single as it peaked at #3 on The Billboard Hot 100; "Drive" also got a #9 spot on the album-Rock airplay chart, ascended into the top 3 in U.K. and into the top 10 in Canada. "Hello Again" netted the group another U.S. top 20 hit and reached the #22 position on The Mainstream Rock chart. In early 1985, the final single, "Why Can't I Have You", held the #33 spot on The Billboard Hot 100 and kept the band just outside the top 10 of the Billboard's Rock chart. "Heartbeat City" earned four times RIAA platinum.

In October 1985, now widely hailed as one of Rock's quintessential acts of the '80s, The Cars put out "Greatest Hits", a 13-song compilation that went on to sell 6 million copies in U.S. alone; the previously unreleased cut, "Tonight She Comes", was released a single shooting straight to #1 on The Mainstream Rock chart and #7 on The Billboard Hot 100. The 12-inch also featured another new song, "Breakaway", which inched into the top 20 of The Mainstream Rock chart.

After a hiatus that saw Ocasek, Benjamin Orr, and guitarist Elliot Easton releasing solo collections, The Cars reconvened for their sixth album of all-new-material, "Door To Door". The disc was released in August 1987 but failed to make it past #26 on The Billboard 200 and stalled at gold. Nevertheless, two singles stormed The Mainstream Rock chart, "You Are The Girl" hit #2 and "Strap Me In" peaked at #4, in addition both these tracks climbed into the top 40 of The Billboard Hot 100.
In February of the next year the breakup of The Cars was publicly announced.

Ocasek continued his solo career, while also became a top-flight producer as well as a member of Elektra's own A&R staff.
Sadly, Benjamin Orr lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in October 2000; he was 53. When he died, "Drive" was played in his honor at a memorial service at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 2005 Greg Hawkes and Elliot Easton teamed-up with Todd Rundgren as The New Cars, but they disbanded two years later.

The Cars much anticipated reunion album, the band's first studio set in 24 years is titled "Move Like This" and is set to be released May 10, 2011, through Hear Music via the Concord Music Group. They are giving fans an initial taste of the release with "Blue Tip".

 

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The Cars pictures:

  • The Cars band late 70s The Cars band late 70s
    Group shot late '70s